On November 17th, 18th, and 19th, HHS’ drama department, Theatre 370, put on a three-night production of Legally Blonde: The Musical. As a self-proclaimed musical expert and lover, I had high hopes for the show. Needless to say, my high expectations were blown completely out of the water.
Julia Giusti-Kizik shined in the main role of Elle Woods, fashion management major turned Harvard Law student. She was an astounding singer, belting out catchy song after catchy song. She suited the character perfectly, capturing Elle’s underlying intelligence while maintaining her outer, often shallow, persona. Giusti-Kizik went through costume changes worthy of the Rockettes, changing multiple times behind a set piece or just off stage in under a minute.
The Delta Nu sorority sisters turned Greek Chorus provided an entertaining interlude to Elle’s story. They appeared “in her head” to encourage and support her, singing their praises and advice in songs such as “Take It Like a Man,” where the leading man, Emmett (Larsen Berg), discovers a department store for the first time.
Act two began with a classic exercise video scene. Michela Michielli acted as Brooke Wyndham, an exercise video queen accused of murdering her husband. Her song didn’t just end there, though. Michielli sang and jumped rope at the same time. It’s hard enough to be able to jump rope consistently, let alone while singing and performing in front of hundreds of peers. She did astoundingly well, never skipping a beat or getting the rope caught on her feet.
This musical, in particular, had a lot more choreographed dances than I’ve seen in an HHS musical. Nearly every number had a portion danced in complete unison. As a dancer myself, I thought they looked great: coordinated and practiced until they were nearly flawless. I was impressed by the level of skill that it took, considering many of the actors don’t pursue dance outside of theater. It added another level to the songs they were singing and more personality to the show as a whole.
The seniors in the show could not have gone out with a better musical. Emma Milligan owned her role as sorority sister turned Greek chorus member, nailing the sassily shallow college girl stereotype. Heather Keith played an important role in the ensemble, dancing and singing better than I could ever dream of doing. Abbi O’Leary played an impressive spectrum of characters, from ensemble, to Elle’s mother, to pretentious Harvard student, to the D.A.. With so many personalities to represent, O’Leary still managed to portray each of them with their own unique characterization.
Kyra Allen played Paulette Bounofontti, a local salon owner and Elle’s first friend at Harvard. She nailed the nearly hopeless woman who dreams of the ideal Irish man. Allen encompassed her vivacious spirit, both in spoken word and song.
Casey Cotter’s two roles were by far the most entertaining and well-received by the audience. He played Nikos, an extremely flamboyant witness in court and was featured in the song “Gay or European”. He also played Kyle the Magnificent, a delivery man clad in extremely short shorts and Paulette’s dream man. When she finds out he is Irish, Cotter and Allen perform an amusing jig together.
All the seniors did a fantastic job and should be very proud of their final musical at HHS.
The accompanying music was excellent. The pit consisted of a blend of band students, teachers, and professionals. They provided a well-orchestrated background to the music, and made the actors’ voices shine.
Not to mention the tech crew, a gang of behind the scenes workers who made the show run smoothly, from lights, to sound, to set pieces. The sound system itself made it difficult for the audience to hear what the actors were saying all of the time, but the crew clearly put in tons of effort to make it work as well as possible. I went both Friday and Saturday night and noted the distinct improvement after one day.
The numerous set changes in the show brought the characters from UCLA campus to Elle’s dorm room to Paulette’s salon to Harvard University. They handled the large set pieces with practiced ease, changing quickly and quietly.
The entire musical carried a lighthearted and peppy tone while still maintaining a meaningful theme. The songs were upbeat, each one getting the audience happily engaged but it still taught the audience the importance of staying true to themselves and not letting anything get in the way of their dreams.
The show was well-executed and lots of fun. I wish every single student had gone out to see it while they had the chance.