It is their 99th season opener. CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center has been producing theatre for nearly a century, and the 2013-14 has officially begun with a vibrant production of Legally Blonde.
The musical, modeled after the 2001 movie and previous book by Heather Hach, chronicles the adventures of Elle Woods (Kate E. Reedy), Delta Nu sorority president, as she crosses the country to Harvard Law School, in pursuit of the boyfriend who dumped her.
This production is as fluffy as the character who plays Rufus (Seymour Tumulty-Leffert). It will not change your life. But it will definitely cause you to smile.
The cast of nearly 30 is young, with many members just entering or in the middle of their college careers, but they are backed by substantial talent and energy.
Reedy is well qualified to undertake the demanding role of Elle. Her candle is as bright at the end of the production as it is at the beginning. Lauren McCombs (Brooke Wyndham) impresses the audience by combining a high-energy jump-rope routine with a powerful singing voice—and doesn’t appear to be winded in the slightest.
Austin Lauer takes a cameo role as Kyle the UPS Guy and elevates it into one of the most memorable in the production. Lauren LeBlanc as hair-dresser Paulette is a stand-out in the cast, grounding her character in honesty, but using her versatility to find plenty of comedic moments.
Also worth mentioning: the eleven members of the orchestra, led by John Austin Clark, whose fingers and lungs rarely get a break in this 2.5 hour production.
Clever choreography, eye-rolling jokes and the creative staging of John R. Leffert outweigh minor technical flubs like an uncomfortably high restaurant table, a brunette headshot for a blonde character, and a dressing room door that just won’t stay closed (great cover, Ms. Reedy).
Though the production is meant to be fun and light-hearted, there are a few serious moments that aren’t given their due. Elle’s clothing snafu at the law school party, and later, a confrontation between Elle and Professor Callahan (Michael Drury) are glossed over too quickly, not giving the audience a chance to absorb the weight of the moment, and losing an opportunity to vary the tempo of the production.
While Legally Blonde will never be put down in the annals of theatre history as deeply dramatic and moving, it can be recorded as successfully fulfilling the niche it intended to fill: fun, high-energy, fluffy enjoyment.
Legally Blonde, produced by CenterStage, continues Saturday at the Jewish Community Center and runs through July 21. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Rush tickets are available for select performances. See the CenterStage website for more information or to purchase. Tickets may also be purchased by calling (502) 459-0660.