Becky Gulsvig is Elle Woods and Frankie is Bruiser in "Legally Blonde the Musical" at the Benedum.
By Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Elle, yeah, it helps to know your audience.
"Legally Blonde the Musical" gets inside a tweenage girl's romantic dreamworld for a well-told confection that's occasionally clever and songs that are not so much memorable as infectious.
For all those who simply adore "Legally Blonde," the movie and the musical, the themes are not all blonde or brunette, pink or navy blue.
But, omigod girls, it certainly helps to be West Coaster Elle Woods, who's, like, totally blonde and beautiful, rich and resourceful, and wears the right outfit for every occasion. And now, she's expecting a proposal from Mr. Right, Harvard-bound law student Warner.
After all, Warner is a perfect match for sorority queen Elle, a daughter of Malibu privilege with BFFs galore. But instead of marriage, it's a breakup that's on his mind.
He's decided that Elle and her 4.0 GPA in fashion merchandising isn't serious enough to help him achieve his lofty goals; he "needs less of a Marilyn; more of a Jackie."
'Legally Blonde the Musical'
Where: Benedum Center, Downtown.
When: Through Sun. Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 and 7:30 p.m.
At first, Elle is sent into a "shame spiral," but then, with her friends' help, she puts her parents' money and her brain to work. Suddenly, she's a Harvard law student, taking classes with a lofty law professor who declares "scruples are a flaw" and other students (including Warner) trying for a coveted spot as his intern. She also meets the anti-Warner, anti-shark Emmett, a poor guy who worked his way to Harvard and, of course, can't help falling for Elle.
Emmett teaches her to get a chip on her shoulder and fight for what she wants.
But what is it she wants? Is it Warner? Emmett? Self-respect?
A trial in the second act tests Elle's resolve and pushes her toward self-discovery and more fashion decisions.
You'd expect the songs to be catchy and cute, but they can be long-winded and suggestive, with some clever lyrics thrown in. There's nothing as memorable as, say, "Popular" in "Wicked," but the idea of a Greek chorus composed of BFFs is clever in context.
Reese Witherspoon pulled off the whole perky and pink thing with panache in the movie, and tour star Beth Gulsvig is a winning combination of Witherspoon's Elle and singing spitfire Kristin Chenoweth. D.B. Bonds as Emmett, the guy from the wrong side of the wealth tracks who could be Mr. Right, cheers on Elle's success without losing confidence in himself. The role was the polar opposite of Bonds' previous appearance here, as the crude Freddy in the 2007 touring company of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
The crowd-pleasers Tuesday night were Natalie Joy Johnson's Paulette, Elle's brassy hairdresser pal who has a couple of big numbers and some of the funniest scenes, and her partner in bold silliness, Ven Daniel (Kyle/Dewey).
Some of the biggest cheers, though, were for the dogs on stage, Paulette's bulldog and Elle's chihuahua.
Hard to tell, of course, but they seemed to be having lots of fun, too.