Legally Blonde is a well-known entertainment property that began life as a 2001 novel by Amanda Brown about a UCLA sorority girl named Elle Woods who attempts to win back her estranged boyfriend Warner Huntington III by following him to Harvard Law School. After shocking everyone by getting accepted into Harvard, Elle embarks on a mission to overcome the stereotype of being a ditsy blonde purely because of how she looks and prove to Warner that she can be the “serious” type of wife he wants by his side as he pursues a career in politics with an eye on the White House.
Brown’s book was based on her experiences at Stanford Law School. The book was adapted into a 2001 film staring Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. In 2007, a stage musical adaptation based on both the book and film, premiered in San Francisco before moving to Broadway. The Broadway production earned seven Tony nominations including Best Book, Best Original Score, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role.
A new mounting of Legally Blonde the Musical is now playing at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Metropolis’ Legally Blonde is a fun-filled, light-hearted escape that is sure to please audiences of all ages.
The key to a successful production of Legally Blonde lies heavily on the shoulders of the actress playing Elle Woods. She not only needs to be a gorgeous knockout, she also has to be one hell of a singer, dancer, and actress.
Alania Wis handles the role of Elle for Metropolis director Robin M. Hughes with talent and charisma aplenty. Wis is a phenomenal triple threat who is fun to watch and joy to hear sing. Wis clearly can carry a show.
In the supporting cast, there is a Greek Chorus of three of Elle’s UCLA sorority sisters – representing her link to the past as she strives to build a new future. Zoe Branch, Jess DiForte, and Jasmine Lucy Young are a delightful trio of beauties. DiForte’s dance abilities are a true standout of the production.
Jimmy Romano plays Elle’s ex-boyfriend Warren, who is none too interested in giving Elle a second chance to be his arm candy, while Dan Hamman plays Emmet Forrest, an unpolished upper classman who takes Elle under his wing.
Hamman has a beautiful tenor voice, clearly the best in the male cast. During the show, Emmet is supposed to go through a transformation from frumpy to polished thanks to Elle. This also sparks Elle to recognize Emmet as a potential suitor.
The only minor misstep for the Metropolis production comes in the area of costuming. While most of the costumes are excellent, Emmet never graduates from his frumpy initial appearance. At UCLA Elle was a 4.0 fashion student, but her outfits seem generally underwhelming for such a fashion-minded darling.
The script by Heather Hach captures a lot of the fun of the 2001 film and the music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin are a delight. Music director Kenneth McMullen has the cast singing in fine form and the backstage orchestra hitting all the right notes. Choreography by Jen Cupani is peppy, energetic, and effective.
In the supporting cast, Haley Gustafson does an impressive job singing while engaged in high octane jumping rope as fitness guru Brook Windham. Christopher Johnson is totally believable as an egotistical, self-serving Professor Callahan, one of Elle’s primary instructors. He is easy to despise.
The Metropolis production features a very talented chorus. Quinn Corrigan provides great comedic support without requiring a lot of dialogue as a hunky UPS delivery man and Michelle Tibble is outstanding as the cosmetologist who falls for him.
Metropolis’ Legally Blonde is a romantic musical comedy that will leave audiences with a smile on their face and in their hearts. Legally Blonde is a five-star entertainment extravaganza.
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Arlington Heights, the Metropolis mounting of Legally Blonde the Musical plays Thursdays through Sundays through November 20. Evening performances are at 7:30 PM Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays. Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 3 PM.
For ticket information contact the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre box office at (847) 577-2121 or visit www.MetropolisArts.com.
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