The theater was packed. Because I had come to the Sunday matinee, I wasn’t expecting too large of a crowd. However, Sunday’s show ended up being the most highly attended of the three days “Legally Blonde: The Musical” played at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Mentally thanking myself for reserving my tickets the week before, I rushed in to find my seat.
I felt upon arriving that I was prepared for the show; I’ve seen the movie “Legally Blonde,” and I knew several theatre majors who had informed me of the differences between the movie and the musical. The story follows Elle Woods, played at MC by junior Sara Deatherage, a stereotypical sorority girl who follows who she thinks is the love of her life to Harvard Law School, and ends up reprioritizing her life. Most of us are familiar with this story of self-realization, but seeing it onstage was, for me at least, a very new experience.
As soon as the lights came up, I realized that reports I had heard around campus of the magnitude of this production were not at all exaggerated. I have never seen a Maryville College Theatre production on this scale; it was quite the sight. The cast dominated the large stage of the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, and the simple, yet well-crafted, sets supported the action successfully and were aesthetically pleasing.
The cast, led adeptly by Deatherage, was clearly well-prepared to take on this Broadway musical.
Despite the minor hiccups that come with any live production, such as microphone inconsistencies, the dance numbers were well-choreographed and tightly executed, the vocal performances were on the whole very impressive and the actors were energetic and worked well together as an ensemble.
Deatherage had remarkably good chemistry with both her male costars, Emmett (Matt Lyscas) and Warner (Cameron Hite), both of whom held their own against Elle’s vibrant spirit, making themselves memorable characters.
Lyscas conveyed the soft spoken, yet driven, disposition of his character, and convinced the audience of his love for “Miss Woods, Elle.” Hite managed to express the slightly pompous nature of his character, while maintaining a slightly ironic air throughout that was charming.
The comedic moments were similarly executed to perfection, the most notable laughs going to Kyle (Kelby Fruecht) and Dewey (Trevor York).
Another standout moment I can’t exclude was Paulette’s (Emily Queen) triumphant, belter’s solo “Ireland.”
I was also impressed by the vast amount of quick changes throughout the show. Actress Sarah Bond had the most costume changes hands down, acting in almost every scene, and changing almost as much.
The transitions between scenes were very tight. I’m sure a lot of preparation went into this specifically, and the swiftness of scene changes was definitely appreciated by audiences members who were anxious to see what happened next in this engaging musical.
All in all, I really enjoyed the production. The sets were well-done, and the backstage crew worked well; they clearly knew what they were doing as well as the actors onstage.
The costuming was subtle and executed effectively: Elle’s outfits especially stood out for obvious reasons – pink.
The cast was truly very talented and dedicated. I feel especially lucky to have experienced the very last performance of this long-awaited production.
All photos courtesy of Stacey Wilner.