Strange Brouhaha

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Legally Blonde: The Musical"

I was flipping channels on the television machine yesterday. For some reason, MTV was showing an excerpt of the Broadway production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical." The excerpt went on, and on, and on, and at a certain point I said "Hey...this isn't an excerpt. It's the whole show!" (It's apparently partly a promo for one of MTV's vapid programs; the "Legally Blonde" segments were bracketed by vaguely pretty girls from whatever program it was, barely reading from cue cards.)

I will admit, of my own free will, that Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" is one of my movie guilty pleasures. (Another one, as we all know, is "A League of Their Own".) When I saw in the NYT earlier this year that there was a musical, I was a bit skeptical. I forget if they did a performance on this year's Tonys; they weren't nominated for Best Musical, so they probably didn't.

Turns out I needn't have been skeptical. The show was mostly really good. Some of the voices (Kate Shindle as Vivienne!) were amazing, the "Riverdance" homage was hilarious. And while it was a little too Kristin Chenoweth for me, Laura Bell Bundy's Elle brought down the house.

If you're at all interested in musical theater, and you can't make it to New York to catch the show on the stage, you should try to catch this the next time it's on MTV. The camera work, as The Wife pointed out, was really good--something that's hard to come by in filmed stage shows. Whoever put the package together deserves an Emmy.

My only problem, and there always has to be a problem with me, doesn't there, was that the book took a lot away from the character of Elle as set forth in the movie (I haven't read the novel). I was a little dismayed to see Elle's control over her life taken away from her: the realization that Warner will never love her is handed to her by another character; the solution to Paulette's dog problem is handed to her by another character. Part of the reason that Elle works, at least in the movie, is that she is allowed to realize for herself that she is smarter than everyone gives her credit for. In the stage production, that is largely taken away from her. In fact, I had to stop watching it for a bit so that I could calm down. this! I laughed really hard; there are some great lines, both in the music and in the book. And the "Riverdance" bit...HA! Right up there with the "Evita" quote in "Wicked." Man, I love the theater.


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