Thursday, September 27, 2018

This "Legally Blonde" is the Top of its Class!

Alexandria Henderson (center) and her Delta Nu cohorts in Legally Blonde (Danielle Barnum)
Legally Blonde The Musical
(in concert)
Showtunes Theatre Company
through September 30, 2018

When I first heard that Showtunes Theatre Company was choosing Legally Blonde as a musical, I was perplexed. I had a preconceived idea that the company chooses – mostly or entirely – musicals that likely will never be fully produced on Seattle stages for a variety of reasons. They might have too many cast members; they might have stupid books/librettos but great music; they might not stand the test of time in terms of relevance. Legally Blonde felt like none of those things. It’s been produced frequently in semi-professional and non-professional/student productions all the time.

Then I heard who would be playing Elle Woods. Alexandria Henderson is a talented rising star in our musical theater “family” and would clearly do a great job. And she is also black – or African-American – or a person of color! In other words, she’s not anything like Reese Witherspoon or the stereotype of the Hollywood Blonde. And I was so excited!

The execution of this concert-style musical is flawless (as directed by Faith Bennett Russell)! It’s even a significant step up for the company, as they hired choreographer Jimmy Shields (what? In a 29 hour rehearsal time?) to work with four dancers to heighten the professional look and feel of the concert.
All the choreography fits the scenes beautifully, and the dancers act as stagehands, moving music stands around in a dance-like way. In the scene with fitness guru, Brooke (Cassi Q), she and the dancers perform with jumpropes beautifully.

Showtunes chose to “reinvent” or even invigorate the show with a new way to look at the way that Elle is discounted as a real intellect able to qualify for and get into Harvard Law. Other people of color are cast significantly, like Justin Huertas as eventual love interest Emmett, and Be Russell as stylist Paulette.

Russell, in particular, infuses Paulette with a “Barbershop” (the movies) flair that makes Paulette more fun and more current, and practically steals the show. Even Paulette’s penchant for Irishmen is funnier.

It’s a joyous, rocking experience. It’s a terrific way to experience this musical. You don’t need scenery, there are plenty of costumes (coordinated by Sadiqua Iman), and there is a wonderful on stage band doing the full orchestration, led by Nathan Young.

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