Legally Blonde (The SOB Review) - Palace Theatre, New York, NY
** (out of ****)
Oh my…God help us.
I realize that Legally Blonde
has, like, totally captured the hearts of many an audience member (especially the tween-to-teen set), but the allure of this latest film-to-fluff fare for the stage escapes me. You know a show is in trouble when the most appreciative audience response is reserved for the dogs.
About halfway through the first act of Legally Blonde
, the talented but misused Orfeh
sings the incongruous tune “Ireland” that includes the prescient line, “I don’t know where this metaphor is going.” That line neatly captured my frustration with this over-the-top ode to girlie girldom power that chose several bizarre tangents to veer off toward.
For every genuinely clever line in the book by Heather Hach
-- and there were several like the one where Harvard admissions discussed reasons for letting this blonde bombshell into school: "diversity" -- there was a groan-worthy tune from Laurence O'Keefe
and Nell Benjamin
(like "Serious" that sounds more like a retread from Saturday Night Fever
or "There! Right There!" that I'll get back to in a moment) or serious misstep.
Including in the choreography by Jerry Mitchell
, who’s usually, like, you know, really superb at this sort of thing. I'm a huge fan of his previous efforts, but the moves here work more like a hybrid of “Bring It On
" and Riverdance
. Perhaps he was just a bit too busy adjusting to his additional role -- his first time as a director.
Of all people, Mitchell should know better than to exacerbate gay stereotypes. Whether providing the dykiest of lesbians or the nelliest of hairdressers or the complicit conspirators in the tedious “There! Right There!" number that tries to discover whether a potential perjurer is gay or European, it’s a surprise that GLAAD
hasn’t been knocking the show. It was appalling.
As for Hach's book, there was little other than the memory of Reese Witherspoon
in the movie to help the audience understand why everyone in the show -- including the aforementioned Harvard admissions team -- was so readily capable of making the huge leap toward loving the lead character of Elle Woods.
Don't get me wrong, the lovely Laura Bell Bundy
does what she can with the part, and she's a terrific singer and dancer, but the book does her quite a disservice. For example, we're to believe that this perfectly dressed, well-coiffed Elle will take the advice of the poorly-dressed, wrong-side of the tracks hairdresser Paulette (Orfeh) whom she just met?
Of course, there's so much energy and exuberance that you can't blame the audience for getting whipped into a frenzy, including on numbers like "Whipped Into Shape" -- another tangential number that only marginally moves the story along. The use of the Delta Nu Greek chorus throughout the show is inspired. And I confess that I'm simply unable to get the tune "Omigod You Guys" out of my mind (please! Make it stop!!
But I much prefer Legally Blonde - The Film
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Labels: Broadway, Film, Jerry Mitchell, Laura Bell Bundy, Legally Blonde, Musical, The SOB Review