Review: LEGALLY BLONDE

By Jody Key — Managing Editor

Lauren Hill as Elle Woods

Gainesville Theater Alliance opened it’s mainstage season on Tuesday evening with LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical, an adaptation for the stage of the 2001 movie which starred Reese Witherspoon. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2007 to lukewarm audiences, but has since found popularity internationally and regionally. It’s an upbeat story with a positive message that is standing the test of time. This story of empowerment and breaking stereotypes is wrapped up in a fun and humorous package. You might be familiar with the tale of Elle Woods of Malibu, the spunky president of UCLA’s Delta Nu sorority. When her sweetheart, Warner dumps her to head to Harvard Law and pursue a more “serious” relationship, Elle devises a plan to get into Harvard Law, show Warner she can be serious, and win back his admiration. What she learns along the way is she’s a strong, smart, and savvy woman who has something new to offer the legal profession with the help of her new friend, Emmett. This is a story of empowerment and breaking stereotypes wrapped up in a fun and humorous package, and includes the story-line and characters from the movie, including Elle’s dog, Bruiser.

Once again, Gainesville Theater Alliance exceeds expectations, and director/choreographer David Rossetti brings Broadway experience with him to create a show that is pure entertainment from start to finish. It’s no wonder GTA was voted one of the top 30 theater programs in the nation by On Stage Magazine, with the amount of professional training and talent these students receive, the professional quality of the shows are a treat for local theater buffs. Not only does GTA prepare students for the future, some of the actors featured in this show already have regional professional credits under their belts as a result of the training they’ve received.

Lauren Hill as Elle Woods is sensational, bringing her flawless vocals and uncanny comedic timing to the role. She adds adds an edge to Elle that takes the character beyond ingenue and enables the audience to believe this blonde bombshell can hold her weight at Harvard Law. Atlanta audiences have come to know Lauren as an amazing triple threat at both the Atlanta Lyric Theatre (Belle in BEAUTY AN THE BEAST, and Amneris in AIDA) and Aurora Theatre (Aphra & Yonah in CHILDREN OF EDEN), but may not have known she’s a Senior at GTA. She carries the show with power, grace, and humor and is a delight to see on stage.

Atlanta based actor and GTA guest artist Brian Robinson plays Professor Callahan, the lawyer who offers Elle and others an internship at his law firm. Brian most recently played Tycoon in Aurora’s MEN WITH MONEY. It’s great to see him onstage in this show and offering his professional expertise to up and coming artists. His ability to act with authenticity in addition to his smooth vocals make him a great addition to this cast.

Sophomore Dellan Short portrays Emmet Forrest, Elle’s new Harvard friend and associate at the Callahan Law Firm. Dellan does a great job as he really brings out the likability factor that is needed for this character to be effective. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this young performer brings to the program in the future.

Freshman Trey Lawson takes on the role of Warner, Elle’s ex and the reason she pursues Harvard Law. Trey holds his own against the upperclassmen on stage. He looks and acts the part, is solid vocally, and is another one to keep an eye on at GTA in the future.

Another guest artist who steals every scene he’s in is Frankie as Elle’s dog Bruiser. He’s played the part in the national touring company of LEGALLY BLONDE and holds the record for doing more performances of the show than any human or actor. He doesn’t miss a cue and is absolutely adorable. Kudos to his trainer William Berloni for showing us “how rescue dogs can be stars”.

Frankie is delightful as Bruiser

Also especially enjoyable on stage were the trio of Margaret Holtkamp, Katie Ivey, and Zafre Sexton as Margot, Serena, and Pilar; Rachel Finazzo as Paulette; Katie Davis as Vivienne; Emmanuel Colon as Carlos/ensemble; Brooke Blackwell as Kate/ensemble; Gracie Dial as Brooke/ensemble; and ensemble members Mae Allison, Savion Gates, Sammy Nelson, and Grant Key. The rest of the ensemble also compliments the show remarkably as well.

As are most GTA productions, this is pretty much a sold-out run; however a matinee has been added this Saturday and there are still tickets available at https://blog.ung.edu/gta/performances/legally-blonde/ if you act fast. You can also call the GTA box office at 678-717-3624 and asked to be wait-listed for tickets to other performances.

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