Theater Review

'Legally Blonde' laughs, sings and shines

CorrespondentOctober 10, 2012 

Cast members of "Legally Blonde The Musical."


  • Details What: “Legally Blonde,” the Broadway musical, presented by N.C. Theatre. Where: Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy Center, Raleigh. When: 7:30 p.m. through Oct. 14; 2 p.m. Oct. 13-14. Tickets: $16-$75. Info: 919-831-6941 or

The character of Elle Woods, immortalized by Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 film “Legally Blonde,” is a remarkable comic creation. She’s a bubbly and privileged sorority girl from Malibu, a sprouting One Percenter obsessed with clothes and fashion.

We shouldn’t like her, but we do. Elle confounds our expectations by being good-hearted, intelligent and generous. She would cheerfully distribute Versace to the world’s poor if only she could.

Elle Woods takes center stage again in “Legally Blonde The Musical,” the spirited and funny Broadway musical comedy in town through Sunday at the Progress Energy Center in Raleigh.

The show follows the plot of the film for the most part. Sunny Elle enters Harvard Law School, overcomes the snooty skepticism of her Ivy League classmates and finds her calling in life. The adaptation weaves in Broadway-style song-and-dance numbers along with some clever film-to-stage transpositions. Elle’s sorority sisters, for instance, become a perky Greek chorus.

Headlining performer Autumn Hurlbert positively glows as Elle and delivers the goods across the board with her powerful singing voice and deft comic timing. Goldsboro native and Miss North Carolina 2011 Hailey Best plays Brooke, a fitness instructor wrongfully accused of murder. She leads a great bit of choreography involving female inmates and jump ropes.

The musical numbers are terrific, with high-energy dancing from director and choreographer Denis Jones, a veteran of the show’s Broadway run. The evening’s highlight is “Bend and Snap,” which celebrates a flirting maneuver I was previously unaware of, but now have profound respect for.

The show has a couple of dozen really funny bits like this, including a running gag about hot UPS guys in shorts and a wicked visual joke concerning “Riverdance.”

Aside from a few missed lighting cues and a wig malfunction, the technical presentation Tuesday night was solid. The orchestra occasionally overwhelmed the singing, but overall, the sound balance was fine.

With a production of this size, you can expect that everyone is going to hit the notes and deliver the pizazz. What’s important in character-driven comedy is energy and tone. The performers and creative team here clearly understand Elle Woods and her fuzzy pink perspective on life. They get the joke, and everything else flows from that.

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