First came the novel, then the movie, then the second movie, and finally LEGALLY BLONDE the MUSICAL, Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and Book by Heather Hach, debuted first in San Francisco, transitioning to Broadway a month later. The show garnered seven Tony nominations, but no wins and mixed reviews. The show ran only about 18 months and did not recoup it’s investment. It has, however, found popularity in local theaters and touring companies.
Anchoring the Alhambra production in the lead role of Elle Woods is Tory Vagasy. Vagasy is one of few singers who not only makes it onto America’s Got Talent, but even fewer who make it to the semi-finals. She originally garnered a following on social media by posting videos of herself singing. Her dream is to perform on Broadway, and she is a very big voice and larger-than-life personality in a petite package. There was a lot of PR around her in the role leading up to the opening, and Vagasy does not disappoint.
True to the story, Elle has the revolving notice of three men: Emmet Forrest (Adam Fields), Professor Callahan (Jonathan Van Dyke), and Warner Huntington III (Corey McKinney). Both Fields and McKinney have the daunting task of duets with Vagasy, and both hold their own, both vocally and in character. Van Dyke’s “Blood in the Water” is a lot of fun, and he seems to enjoy making everyone dislike the lecherous Professor.
On the female side of the supporting actors is Katie Nettle as Paulette Buonufonte. This young lady is rather the scene-stealer and is hilarious to watch. For the stage production, the role of Professor Stromwell (the female professor who pushes Elle to grow) has been merged into the role of Vivienne Kensingon (Ellie Roddy). Roddy does very well with making the audience dislike her at the beginning of the show and change their minds by the end of the show.
The rest of the LEGALLY BLONDE ensemble are every bit as strong vocally, with the exceptions of the dogs (Bruiser, Rufus, and Ezra), who were quiet as church mice. Many of the cast had fun cameos, with Anthony Mincey II probably getting the biggest reaction with audience members looking for dollar bills to tip as he delivered his “packages”. The show is high energy fun.
From sorority house, to restaurant, to outdoors, to Harvard courtyard and court, there are numerous scene changes in this show, and the movement of pieces was almost seamless to keep the flow without blackouts.
LEGALLY BLONDE is very heavy on music with little dialogue. The casting leaned towards the vocal prowess of its members. The space filled with dance breaks was the weaker side of the show. The choreography was cute, but the execution not as finessed as some of the other Alhambra productions I’ve seen, such as the recent FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.
LEGALLY BLONDE the MUSICAL runs Sept 28 – Nov 5, 2023, at the Alhambra Theatre, 12000 Beach Blvd. Ticket prices vary based on show and seating. For reservations, go to alhambrajax.com or call (904) 641-1212.
By Cessy Newmon