Thursday, July 5, 2012

THEATRE REVIEW: "Legally Blonde, The Musical" at Moonlight Stage Productions

“Legally Blonde” Never Goes Out of Style:
Moonlight Stage Productions kicks off its summer season with a musical that’s fun, fluffy and full of energy

By Donnie Matsuda

From its effervescently rousing opening number “Omigod You Guys” to its inspiring and feel-good full-company finale “Find My Way,” Moonlight’s summer season opener Legally Blonde, The Musical is, like, totally awesome.  

Emma Degerstedt and Anthony Carillo in "Legally Blonde, The Musical" at Moonlight Stage Productions.  Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques.
Sure, there are some staid and stagnant moments, a couple of romantic relationships that are a few flames short of burning love, and a handful of “did they really just say that?” jokes, but overall, they are mostly forgettable “blonde moments” in a mostly cute and charming musical.  What audiences will probably remember most about Legally Blonde, The Musical are its never-ending string of bright and bubbly song and dance musical numbers, its solid cast of over-the-top personalities played to perfection, and its intriguing-enough storyline that bounds along over two and a half hours with plenty of sparkle and sass.     

Emma Degerstedt and Company.  Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques.
Actress Emma Degerstedt (herself a former UCLA sorority girl) plays a very pert and perky Elle Woods, though she fortunately doesn’t camp up the role with too much giddy girlish charm.  Instead, her Elle remains surprisingly grounded and it is not completely far-fetched that she would respond to her boyfriend dumping her (a handsome and golden voiced Anthony Carillo) by cleverly working her way into Harvard Law School and to the top of her class, with some help from her friend and mentor Emmett (a scruffy, low-key Brandon Joel Maier).  But, it takes an entire village to try and help this modern-day golden girl make good – or at least graduate - and, fortunately for Elle, she’s got a lot of folks on her side.  Most notable are her gaggle of sorority sisters turned Greek Chorus (a spunky and well harmonized trio of Alexis Henderson, Tiana Okoye, and Stephanie Wolfe) and her hilarious, scene-stealing hairdresser, Paulette (a Jersey-licious and appropriately over-the-top Julie Cardia).

And amid a strong supporting ensemble, Jessica Bernard as Elle’s rival Vivienne, strong voiced Cris O’Bryon as Professor Callahan, Kim Zolozabal (last seen as Tracy in Moonlight’s 2011 production of “Hairspray”) as lesbian law student Enid, and Jenn Simpson as Brooke are all standouts.  Add to that two adorable and well-trained pooches – Ness as Bruiser and Ali as Rufus – making several crowd-pleasing cameo appearances, and you’ve got a cast that’s eager and energized to entertain.

Brandon Joel Maier and Company.  Photo courtesy of Ken Jacques.
Director and choreographer John Vaughan provides a lot of zippy interludes to keep this girl-power glam-fest going strong and his choreography, while not technically impressive, manages to delight with its dizzying array of cheer-inspired formations and poses.  His buoyant staging is further enhanced by some spiffy and sparkly technical elements, which include many massive drops and sliding set pieces rented from Chinchilla Theatrical Scenic, some splashy wardrobe creations from Upland’s Theatre Company, and some colorful lighting designed by Christina Munich.  Music Director Dr. Terry O’Donnell leads a nine piece orchestra through the tuneful and mostly pleasant – though somewhat forgettable – score. 

So, if you’re looking for a silly but solidly entertaining musical, then get in touch with your inner valley girl, grab your nearest blinged-out bag, and get thee to the Moonlight.  Seriously, you’ll be, like, totally tickled pink.

Things to know before you go: Legally Blonde, The Musical plays at Moonlight Stage Production’s Amphitheatre through July 14, 2012.  Running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.  Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8pm.  Tickets are $15-$50.  For more information or to purchase tickets, call (760) 724-2110 or visit

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