The room was full of energy during Friday’s production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” running at Showtimers Community Theatre. Based on the 2001 movie that starred Reese Witherspoon, “Legally Blonde” follows the self-empowerment journey of Elle Woods, a young woman who discovers the Malibu world she knows does not entirely overlap with Harvard Law School. And she brings her little dog along for the ride.
The strong supporting female roles in this musical are heartening. The solid vocal tones from audience favorite Paulette (Jamie Choina Stewart) are evident as she sings wistfully of a place she has never been. Brooke (Sarah Coleman) belts while simultaneously jumping rope. To hear the rush of air from the jump rope on a double-under while Coleman sings reveals both physical and vocal strength.
For more evidence of the energy required for this production, you can turn to MTV, of all places. MTV, referenced in “Legally Blonde,” has a peculiar history with the show. In 2007, an MTV reality show was made about auditions for the Broadway production of this show. The winner’s prize: take over the leading role of Elle Woods. In one of the TV episode competitions, the contestants/actresses cardiocycled and sang at the same time. Vanessa Mills, as Elle Woods in Showtimers’ current production, shows stamina as she makes her way through this packed show.
In line with the musical’s high energy is its humorous lack of subtlety. A fragrance named “love” is sprayed into the air when the relationship between two characters starts to turn romantic. In another moment, a character’s strut from one corner of the stage to the other in disco lighting gained applause as the actor exited.
“Legally Blonde: The Musical” must also be considered in the context of its Broadway debut in 2007. For example, the musical number “Gay or European” and its call to celebrate sexual orientation takes on new meaning now that gay marriage is legal, something not true when this musical was written. This musical number benefits from the energy of the full cast onstage. Indeed, with few exceptions, the most powerful parts of this run are when the stage is filled with the cast.
The relationship between Elle and Callahan, Elle’s high-powered lawyer boss, also takes new meaning after the #MeToo movement. With messages of gender solidarity and perseverance, the show’s themes inspire when in combination with its upbeat numbers.
The moments of humor and connection in this show bring levity to these questions of equality that continue 12 years later. “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is an energy-filled show that had many shoulders in the audience bouncing along opening night. The dogs onstage helped, too.