Arts and Entertainment

Fashion! Crimes! Drama! Welcome to Harvard!

Ismath Maksura and Emma Linderman review STC’s fall musical, “Legally Blonde”.

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By Zoe Oppenheimer

This fall, the Stuyvesant Theater Community (STC) presented the musical version of the 2001 film comedy, “Legally Blonde.” The movie is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Amanda Brown and follows college student Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), who gains entrance into Harvard Law school in an attempt to win back her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis). However, he believes that she is not serious about her future.

Though it is a comedy, “Legally Blonde” is quick to voice earnest themes of finding self-worth and combating labels like the “dumb blonde.” The musical is well-crafted, a perfect translation from screen to stage that is complete with all the necessary musical numbers. The film’s iconic video essay sent by Elle to the Harvard Admissions office is replaced in the musical by Elle and her sorority entourage, who fly to Boston to win over the committee in song. Another plot highlight is Elle’s disproval of a witness testimony, in which she debunks the claim that the witness was having an affair with the accused Brooke Windham (Ali Larter) by proving that he is gay. The court scene transpires in the “There! Right There!” musical number, which has become a beloved internet meme. The show is full of energy, though it does water down some of the more serious moments present in the film. However, the majority of the story and its themes are faithful to the original, and anyone who was a fan of the film will definitely enjoy the musical version.

Directed by sophomores Ashley Choi and Jenna Mackenroth and junior Max Kahn, STC's production of the musical maintains the same level of energy present in the original Broadway adaptation. This is especially noticeable in the ensemble cast which made up Elle’s Delta Nu sorority. Before shattering stereotypes, “Legally Blonde” first embraces them, and it does this shamelessly, as seen in the high-energy opening number, “Omigod You Guys,” in which the Delta Nu’s prepare for Elle’s predicted proposal. Despite several sound and lighting inconsistencies, the cast sailed seamlessly through catchy musical numbers.

Elle Woods was brought to life by senior Noa Greenstein, who delivered all the drama and vivacity one could hope for. With an impressively strong singing voice, Greenstein humanized Elle, making her every action—both humble and hysterical—entirely understandable.

Elements of the show surrounding Elle reflected her character and personality, particularly the excellent work on her costumes, makeup, and room. The set of Elle’s room was vivid, albeit a bit simple, and the bright pink of her eyeshadow and costumes popped out from the far ends of the theater. The switch from the navy business attire Elle wears at Harvard to her bright pink pantsuit at the end was a crowd-pleaser and drove home the message of the show.

Greenstein was accompanied by an equally strong supporting cast, notable members being junior Reilly Amera in the role of Elle’s beautician and confidante Paulette, and senior Adam Cohen as Professor Callahan. Amera’s theatricality was a sight to behold, catching the attention of the whole audience during her solo performance of “Ireland.” From start to finish, Amera was entirely committed to every aspect of the role, down to Paulette’s thick Boston accent. Cohen played the role of a strict, but seemingly well-meaning college professor, and seamlessly made the switch to a scheming antagonist with ulterior motives that were revealed in his attempt to make a pass at Elle. Callahan’s musical number, “Blood in the Water,” was a pleasing performance, with lyrics including “Only some of you will turn out sharks, just some / The rest are chum.”

The show’s other antagonistic roles were also brought to life by strong actors. Junior Katerina Corr played Vivienne, Elle’s Harvard rival, delivering a performance that both maintained the character’s poised exterior and exhibited her malice with ease. Elle’s power-hungry ex-boyfriend Huntington III (played by junior Julian Cunningham) was played faithfully to the original character, with the right amount of condescension at the show’s beginning and a believable transition to the desperate and hilariously pathetic character he became by the end of the musical.

Though the majority of the cast played their roles well, there was something left to be desired in Elle’s love interest, Emmet Forrest (played by junior Yuvan Das). Though Das was endearingly honest onstage, there were times where it felt like he didn’t know his lines very well, as they were often spoken in a rushed manner. Das’s musical performances also felt tentative and were filled with inexplicable pacing, which was especially apparent during his duets with Greenstein.

“Legally Blonde”is a film that resonates with many, and its themes continue to touch audiences to this day. It is often daunting to attempt to recreate such a beloved work and simultaneously bring something new to the table. Thankfully, STC has tackled this task brilliantly, delivering a lively adaptation of the classic film that is filled to the brim with catchy tunes and entertaining dance numbers. STC’s production was heartfelt, a quality that most definitely appreciated by the audience.