Monday, May 13, 2013

Legally Blonde at Capital Playhouse

The musical Legally Blonde at Capital Playhouse is high-energy escapist entertainment with some great music, and delightful but fluffy humor.

Elle Woods (Bailey Boyd) is an airhead sorority sister in love with Warner Huntington III (Patrick Wigren), a Jack Kennedy wannabe student whose goal is to become a senator by the time he’s 30. Before leaving UCLA to go to Harvard Law School Warner dumps Elle because she’s not “serious” enough and would not be a proper mate for an up-and-coming lawyer/politician. Determined to win him back, with a little help from Delta Nu sister Kate (Erin Snodgrass), Elle applies for and is accepted into Harvard Law — highly unlikely but hey, this is a musical.

Bailey Boyd (center); from left: Megan Tudor, Jen Ropella, Erin Snodgrass, Kristin Burch, Alessa Daniel, Jesika Westbrook, Samantha Eagle – photo by Dennis Kurtz
At Harvard Elle transforms herself into an exemplary student with the help of — again, highly unlikely but it’s a musical — a divorced hairdresser named Paulette (Stephanie Nace), an imaginary Greek chorus cheering squad from her old sorority, and a nerdy but nice law teaching assistant named Emmett Forrest (Pauls Macs). Emmett is a character we’ve seen in countless romantic comedies, the nice guy who falls in love with the heroine.

Elle wins a coveted internship and joins a team of attorney interns defending a famous fitness instructor, Brooke (Kristin Burch) accused of murder.

The set by Bruce Haasl and Matt Lawrence’s lighting are outstanding as usual, and the costumes by Kellen Dixie Krieg and Lauren Cook are fabulously outrageous — notably Elle’s red dresses (which I wish were pink) and her drum majorette outfit, some of the clothes worn by the punk/hip-hop boys in the ensemble, and everything worn by Paulette.

Boyd carries the show, but not alone. Petite and perky with long blonde curls and big black eyelashes, Boyd was a great choice for this role. She’s a firecracker of energy and charm with a winning smile, and she sings beautifully.

Bailey Boyd, Pauls Mac – photo by Dennis Kurtz
If this were a serious show Nace’s Paulette would provide the comic relief. Maybe she’s the comedy in the comedy. I’ve seen her in many roles at Capital Playhouse, and she always throws herself wholeheartedly into every role she plays. She plays Paulette as gutsy and streetwise, but also vulnerable.

Warner is a stuffy and arrogant character who turns out pretty nice in the end, not the kind of character that allows for Wigren to display his considerable comedic skills, but he plays him nicely.

Macs, an actor/director from Seattle, makes his Capital Playhouse debut as good-guy Emmett. He sings well and acts the part convincingly and his physical appearance is ideal for the role.

Burch stands out in the ensemble throughout most of the first act and then truly explodes with energy in the rope-jumping song “Whipped Into Shape.” Like Boyd, she brings so much energy and expressiveness to the part that she’s practically exhausting.

Another supporting role that is perfectly cast is Gregory Conn as Professor Callahan. Olympians will remember him as the emcee for the last two Capital City Pride festivals. As an actor he is sure and confident and he has an amazingly controlled voice.

Other notable supporting roles are Christian Carvajal in a great wig as Ella’s father and in other roles. He doesn’t sing much, he doesn’t dance, but he’s fun to watch — especially for people who are used to seeing him in highly dramatic roles such as Claudius in Hamlet and the professor in Oleanna. Also Alayna Deatherage as Enid Hoopes the outspoken feminist-lesbian student.

I recently saw Legally Blonde at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and while I don’t like to compare different theater’s productions of the same show, seeing this in the smaller, more intimate space of Capital Playhouse has both advantages and drawbacks. Seeing the actor’s expressions up close and personal is great, but the drawback is there’s not enough room for the big song-and-dance numbers. Smaller numbers like the afore-mentioned “Whipped Into Shape” with only three performers right in the audience members’ faces are exciting, but the larger ensemble numbers lack the sweep and grandeur of a large stage, which this particular musical calls for.

For a delightful evening of fun-filled entertainment you can’t go wrong with Legally Blonde.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through May 26
Where: Capital Playhouse: 612 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
Tickets: $28-39
More information: 360-943-2744,

1 comment:

KBF said...

Just saw this last nite. What a hoot. All your comments, Alec, PLUS, Jason Pead was outrageous! At the trailer as Dewey--fitting every stereotype, then as tight buns Kyle! Oh my. But when he and Paulette appeared about ready to Irish dance...I, they can't carry that off. But they sure did! I about needed a potty break!