Arts & Entertainment, Features

PREVIEW: BU On Broadway’s “Legally Blonde” is gleeful romp through a revived classic

Marisa Bingham stars as Elle Woods in BU On Broadway’s production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” PHOTO COURTESY EMILY HUBER

As fans of early-aughts pop culture may be apt to declare, anything you can do, Elle Woods can do better — all while wearing five-inch heels. With BU On Broadway’s upcoming production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” the saying might need to be modified to include song and dance. In the delightful romp through an early 2000s classic, the cast and crew of the show revive “Legally Blonde” and take it to new heights on the main stage.

The musical follows the trajectory of the original movie of the same name, which was released in 2001 and starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. Those familiar with the movie will recognize the story instantly, as it tracks a sorority president on her path to Harvard in pursuit of love and a law degree.

Despite the well-known plot, BU On Broadway’s musical production outdoes that of the original film. With a high-energy cast of 25 performers (one of which is a particularly spunky Chihuahua), the show breathes new life into an endearing, well-loved tale of following one’s ambitions in spite of misogyny and stereotypes.

The refreshing take can be attributed to director Izzy Weinberg, who recently appeared in front of the curtain as Middle Cathy in On Broadway’s production of “The Last Five Years.” According to co-producer Emily Huber, Weinberg is “dedicated” and had an “incredible vision” for the show.

During a recent rehearsal, it was clear that Weinberg was as excited about the show. With an appropriately sparkly twinkle in her eye and bubbly laughter during some of the most comical scenes, the College of Communication junior embodied the spirit of the giddy, delightful musical.

In creating such a phenomenally fun show, directorial choices work in tandem with a highly technical performance. In addition to the six members of the production and direction team, the program lists 38 members on the crew, all of whom play a key role in maintaining the essence of the show. Co-producer Kobi Kassal noted that there is “so much more that goes into the show than acting and dancing.”

Huber, now in her second year and seventh show with BU On Broadway, also emphasized the importance of a strong technical team, saying that “without tech, there would be no show.” She credited Ruby Yang with leading those tech decisions and added that they deserve recognition for their hard work. “[Tech] … ensured that the early 2000s [were] resurrected in all their glory,” she said.

Also deserving of recognition is choreographer Julia Keith, who arranged the elaborate dance numbers which add to the high-octane energy of the show. Each scene is uniquely delightful, with movement on every square inch of the space. Certain numbers, including “Whipped Into Shape,” show a complex series of cardio exercises that may have audiences gasping for air, let alone the cast members who sing a pitch perfect workout anthem during the dance without so much as a flinch.

Keith provided attention-grabbing concepts in more ways than one. Her dog, Paco, plays the role of Wood’s chihuahua, Bruiser, with a delightfully entertaining attitude. Having a live dog on set leads to unpredictability, but many of the spunky twists of the show are intentional. Andrea Rustad, a member of the ensemble cast, noted that there are “lots of little surprise moments” throughout the show that add excitement.

Those surprise moments are what keep the musical up-to-date and socially relevant. For a musical whose catalyst is the acceptance of a blonde for reasons of “multiculturalism,” the inclusion of asides on real-life feminism and an adamant rejection of misogyny emphasize the empowering elements of the show.

Huber emphasized that empowerment, noting that “Elle Woods is a feminist icon.”

Much like one particular blonde from Delta Nu, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” shapes up to be an undeniably iconic production that is gleeful, exciting and effervescent. In the words of Elle Woods herself, if you don’t leave the show with a spring in your step and the overwhelming urge to squeal with joy, then you, like “whoever thought tangerine was the new pink,” might be “seriously disturbed.”

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” will run in the Tsai Performance Center at 8 p.m. on April 6, 7 and 8.

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