Hart House Theatre’s fourth production of their 2019/2020 season was Legally Blonde: The Musical. The play, based on the film of the same name, was directed by Saccha Dennis, choreographed by Gregory Carruthers, and musically directed by Giustin MacLean.
Legally Blonde: The Musical followed Elle Woods (Emma Sangalli) on her journey through Harvard University Law School. She enrolled into the law program in hopes of getting back together with her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (John Carr Cook), after he broke up with her because she was not “serious.”
As Elle ventured into Harvard’s law program, she found herself in tight spots and occasionally picked on by other girls at school. However, she always seemed to make friends with people in her community. Elle befriended her Teaching Assistant, Emmett Forrest (Ethan Vasquez Taylor), as he began helping her study and focus in her law classes. She also became friends and later confidantes with Paulette Buonofuonte (Moulan Bourke), a manicurist, at a salon near Harvard.
A fun twist Hart House Theatre’s production added was in the final scene of the musical. After Elle’s graduation ceremony at Harvard University, she got down on one knee and proposed to Emmett. The play closed with a spotlight focusing on Elle and Emmett gushing over one another.
The musical included two acts and twenty songs. A crowd favourite seemed to be “Omigod You Guys.” The play opened with this number, sung by the ensemble of sorority girls. Throughout the night, the song would reappear in snippets and was always greeted with giggles from the audience. After the show, many audience members were humming the catchy song.
A specific character always received adoration from the audience each time he stepped foot on stage. Elle’s dog, Bruiser, was played by an actual black French bulldog. Each time he was brought on stage, the audience would “aw” in unison. Occasionally, he wore different outfits and performed tricks. The dog who played Bruiser also played Paulette’s dog Rufus. He received equal adoration for each character he played.
Sangalli’s performance as Elle was phenomenal. She epitomized Elle’s girly and bubbly personality and captivated the audience each time she sang with her outstanding vocal work.
Vasquez Taylor’s performance as Emmett was earnest. He depicted a kind-hearted, honest, and hard-working character with precision. His body language and facial expressions throughout the play showcased the character’s persona well.
Elle’s entourage included her closest friends: Margot (Paige Foskett), Serena (Émilie Macaulay), and Pilar (Tama Martin). Foskett’s, Macaulay’s, and Martin’s performance as their characters were energetic and exciting. They were all talented dancers, actresses, and singers. The production would not have been the spectacular show it was without the spirit of these three ladies.
An impressive character was Brooke Wyndham (Amy Holden). As act two began, she reopened the show by performing Zumba and singing “Whipped Into Shape.” Her ability to perfectly hold notes while doing physical exercise was astonishing—she did not stutter or gasp for air once.
The production excelled in their movement between scenes and timelines. The time periods were easy to follow and showcased progress between Elle’s time at Harvard, and her relationship with Emmett and Paulette. The progression of time was not jumpy as the production did a fantastic job on smoothing out transitions.
There were scenes when a character would speak internally. At these moments, background characters would freeze. Their stillness was impressively wax-figure like.
Overall, Legally Blonde: The Musical was stellar. I truthfully felt like I was watching a Broadway production. Between the set designs, the choreography, and the actors’ vocals, each scene was astounding and exciting to watch.
As the night came to an end, the cast and crew were applauded with a standing ovation. The crowd cheered loudly as each actor and actress took their bow. No detail nor concept went unnoticed; each structural element enhanced the amazing performance.
If you’re interested in watching a high-quality rendition of Legally Blonde: The Musical, catch Hart House Theatre’s production, running until February 1.