Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Legally Blonde – The Musical

Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin

Book by Heather Hach

Legally Blonde--The Musical
Legally Blonde--The Musical

Directed & Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

At the Oriental Theatre

Legally Blonde—The Musical should be outlawed

Legally Blonde—The Musical, now at the Oriental Theatre through June 7, could only appeal to those who enjoyed the film. As a Broadway musical, Legally Blonde is so light-weight that it makes fluff shows seem like Shakespeare. I’m a big fan of musicals and shows like Hairspray and Mama Mia are enjoyable musical treats filled with high energy, terrific dancing and fine voices. It is valid that Broadway musicals can be pure escapist fluff—as long as the show’s production elements contain a bouncy score, cute characters and smart lyrics and creative choreography. Unfortunately, none of these elements are present in Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde--the Musical
Legally Blonde--The Musical

I can’t remember a major, two and a half hour musical with such as lame, ersatz score with such strange lyrics—most of which were impossible to understand when sung by Becky Gulsvig (Elle Woods) and her eight Greek chorus members. Gulsvig and her group sung in such squeaky voices that I couldn’t understand a word they sung! The whiny voices were drowned out by the over modulated orchestra that featured too much percussion. Most of the pop/rock styled singers (including the men) had weak voices unable to land several of the talk-songs. With song titles such as “Omigod You Guys,” “Blood in the Water,” “Bend and Snap,” this show panders to sexism, is demeaning to women and gays while it presents men as merely sexual studs.

I could find nothing artistic here only a collection of stereotypes and clichés. The choreography was bland, the dancing below par and the story so weak that the writers had to resort to poor imitations of Irish music and a rip-off of Riverdance. When a live dog steals a couple of scenes, you know a show is in trouble. I’m scratching my head to figure out who the audience is for this cheesy musical? When a score lacks harmonies and melodies and the lyrics are so garbled by vocally challenged singers using pop/rock styles, who can enjoy that? Women and gays will be offended—so who is the audience?
I guess only fans of the film—this is another example of the dumbing-down of Broadway musicals. I’m still a believer that strong music and lyrics with a compelling story about likable characters produced artistically will find an audience. Legally Blonde lowers the standards.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL, call 312-902-1400, tickets $32 – $95, Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through June 7, 2009

2 thoughts on “Legally Blonde – The Musical

  • Anonymous Comment

    Tom —
    I’m as faux-pretentious as the next theatre-goer, but I’m familiar with Legally Blonde. In fact, I’m a fan of it for what it is – a feelgood show with poppy music. Trying to judge it based on anything but what it is is just silly. There aren’t deep political undermeanings in this show, nor is it trying to change the world. It’s supposed to be fun – just like the movie it was based off was just supposed to be fun.

    Also – I’m not sure what you mean with this sentence.

    “With song titles such as “Omigod You Guys,” “Blood in the Water,” “Bend and Snap,” this show panders to sexism, is demeaning to women and gays while it presents men as merely sexual studs.”

    Since none of those songs are offensive in the slightest or have anything to do with pandering to anyone, I’m not sure what you mean. “Omigod you guys” is the big opening number where the sorority girls are celebrating Elles engagement. “Blood in the water” is performed by a law professor teaching a class. “Bend and Snap” is a production number about confidence.

    I’m a woman. One of my best friends is a gay man. We love the show. Generalizing is lame. Especially when it’s not even clear what you’re talking about in the first place.

  • Go and see Crazy for You and Once on This Island to see what fine Broadway musicals are.

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