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Legally Blonde

Like last year's big screen comedy hit, The Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde takes what appears to be a self-indulgent and materialistic tale and turns it into a funny and pointed lesson on deeper issues.

Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods
Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods
Photo: Paul Kolnik
Elle Woods, a gorgeous blonde Delta Nu sorority sister at UCLA, gets dumped by her hunky, brainy boyfriend, who's off to Harvard Law and needs to "get serious." Unwilling to give up her connubial dream and no slouch in the classroom when she's not obsessing over the latest fashions, Elle crams for the LSAT and applies to the esteemed legal institution herself.

Laura Bell Bundy as Elle delivers her credentials to Harvard Law Admissions
Laura Bell Bundy as Elle
delivers her credentials
to Harvard Law Admissions
Photo: Paul Kolnik
It's a longshot and she knows it, so rather than submitting the required essay, she shows up in person to tout her "credentials" in a knockout song and dance routine that not even the usually button-down, coolly rational admissions officer can resist.

Laura Bell Bundy covers all the bases as Elle, delivering stirring anthems, smoky ballads, and a layered performance that draws our sympathy and respect for a character we were ready to dismiss prima facie as a superficial airhead.

The chemistry crackles between Bundy and Richard H. Blake, as Warner, her narcissistic ex-boyfriend, driving the plot forward through resentment, competition, and longing. Blake keeps Warner from falling into the stereotypic antagonist by walking a fine line between ambitious and misguided, leaving room for Michael Rupert's slick work as the cold-blooded Professor Callahan to play the heavy, a blood-thirsty courtroom shark.

Colorado's Annaleigh Ashford (who'll be taking over the role of Glinda in Wicked on Broadway in October, 2007), Tracy Jai Edwards, and Asmeret Ghebremichael, provide a saucy Greek chorus that supports Elle throughout her trials (pun intended).

Orfeh as Paulette, the hairdresser, and Laura Bell Bunday as Elle
Orfeh as Paulette, the hairdresser,
and Laura Bell Bunday as Elle
Photo: Paul Kolnik
Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin's rock-oriented score and lyrics are surprisingly versatile, driving the action when necessary, yet thoughtful and emotive when apropos.

Though aimed at a young, female demographic, the social commentary and satire is sharp, giving the musical multi-generational and cross-gender appeal: Director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell has this baby fine-tuned; the eye candy is impressive; it's genuinely funny; and it's got enough to say to be relevant.

Legally Blonde is in an open-ended run at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway, NY, NY. 212-307-4100.

Bob Bows

 

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