Verdict on ‘Blonde’: It’s a class action

February 12, 2011

If you enjoyed the 2001 movie “Legally Blonde,” starring Reese Witherspoon, then you’ll probably enjoy the national touring musical now playing in Spokane. Both offer peppy, girly fun and a main character who is hard not to like.

The show’s inclusion of popular, MTV-inspired music and high-energy dance routines keep its story from becoming, as Elle would put it, “like something from last season’s sample sale.”

Similar to the movie, the musical tells the story of Elle Woods, a UCLA sorority girly-girl determined to prove to her man her “seriousness” by following him to Harvard Law School, and in the end discovering that she is capable of being more than someone’s trophy wife.

Nikki Bohne plays an excellent Elle Woods. Aside from possessing a set of stellar chops, Bohne brings uniqueness to the role that is both sassy and sincere, making it nearly impossible to not want to become a fan of Team Elle.

Though Bohne is superb throughout the entire show, her talent is especially apparent in “What U Want,” as she delivers Elle’s Harvard Law essay in a blinged-out drum major outfit with an entourage of a dozen or so band members and cheerleaders, and when she belts out the last few notes of “So Much Better” for what seems like an exceptionally long time.

Performances by other cast members worth mentioning include Jillian Wallach as Paulette, Elle’s nail technician and confidante; Kahlil Joseph’s (Professor Callahan) debonair rendition of “Blood in the Water”; and Elle’s beloved sorority sisters, Nadia Vynnytsky (Serena), Brit West (Pilar) and Maggie Taylor (Margot).

The biggest crowd-pleasing number from Thursday’s performance was “Bend and Snap.” What begins as a stomp-clap cheer/mating ritual dance routine unexpectedly transitions into to a spoof of “Riverdance,” as Paulette, who has a weakness for Irish men, realizes that her crush, the hunky UPS Man (Michael Milton), is of Irish descent.

The musicians, under the direction of Rob Cookman, successfully translate composer Laurence O’Keefe and lyricist Nell Benjamin’s mix of pop, rock, flutey ballads, jazz and marching band beats. O’Keefe and Benjamin create a mostly playful score, aside from two songs that seemed too slow and too long, “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Take it Like a Man.” Combined with youthful comedy the score also includes a montage of images indicative of Generation Y pop culture and consumerism: the Energizer Bunny, Red Bull, Starbucks, Tiffany’s jewelry, Birkin bags, Hello Kitty, Playboy, Oprah, “The Apprentice” and even “Glee.”

A dazzling lead, enthusiastic supporting cast and just the right amount of humor make “Legally Blonde” a show worth attending.

Theater review

“Legally Blonde,” Thursday, INB Performing Arts Center

The show continues through Sunday at the INB Performing Arts Center. For ticket information, call (800) 325-SEAT.


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