Legally Blonde by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, PA
December 13, 2016
Review submitted by Jahnavi Rao of Conestoga High School
The hallowed halls of Harvard Law School turn into a captivating stage at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s performance of Legally Blonde. This high energy performance followed a strikingly-blonde sorority girl leave her home in California for the Ivy Leagues in order to find herself, with a couple pink outfits and musical numbers thrown in.
Amanda Brown’s novel Legally Blonde, published in 2001, follows former-sorority president-now-Harvard-law-student Elle Woods on a quest to win back her old boyfriend, pass law school, and find something she did not expect to. The book was adapted into a highly successful movie in 2001, culminating into its Broadway debut in 2007, with lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Neil Benjamin, and book by Heather Hach.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s lively and humorous production delivered new life to this classic show. A variety of aspects of the show, including the lighting, staging, set, and actors, created a cohesive production. Moreover, the ensemble maintained a high energy and commitment to their individual characters, transporting the audience to Elle Woods’ struggle with school, boys, and teachers.
The lead actors executed their parts captivatingly, with Sean Terrey (Emmett) truly stealing the show with his lovable character and mesmerizing voice. Maggie King (Elle Woods) consistently kept the show moving with her engaging attitude, impressive belt and bright pink costumes. Also, Alicia Vilari (Paulette) was anticipated each time she appeared for her scenes, delighting the audience with her enchanting voice and hilarious accent. Each of the lead characters went above and beyond in their interpretations of their characters and directed the show in a fast paced fashion, no pun intended.
The token appearances from the UPS man, Jack Walker (Kyle) had the audience on their feet with his commanding strut and seductively delivered lines, along with Riley Redpath (Margot) energetically leading the Delta Nu girls each memorable time they came on stage.
The actors were accompanied on stage with a constant, minimalistic set that routinely seemed to transform into another setting entirely, with the aid of lights and choice brick walls rolled in. Delightful costumes and high-energy choreography engaged the audience and told the story through green and blue flashes of light.
A humorous and invigorating performance, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy directed the audience through the department store that is Elle Woods’ life, a place for learning, fashion, and love.
Review submitted by Nina Gold of Harriton High School
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a saying that never loses its relevance, as was demonstrated by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s production of Legally Blonde, which told the familiar story of a girl who proved to others – and more importantly, herself – that there was more to her than her looks.
Based on the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde follows the path of sorority girl Elle Woods, who exchanges her sun-kissed home for the cutthroat world of law in order to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. Although the musical received mostly positive reviews and was nominated for several Tony Awards, it closed after a year-long run and subsequently toured the country for several years. It also opened on the West End in London, garnering more mixed reviews than it received on Broadway.
Maggie King’s portrayal of Elle Woods was commendable, and her powerful voice was well-suited to the role. She successfully emphasized the determination and strong morals of Elle, while still holding true to the bubbly sorority girl that began the show. King was well-contrasted by the character Emmett, played by Sean Terrey. Terrey’s stage presence, quirky vibes, and comedic timing created a strong dynamic between the two, and he continually drew the focus of the audience with his impressive voice and natural charisma.
Other standouts included Alivia Villari playing Paulette – Elle’s newfound friend with an affinity for the Irish – and Jack Walker as the irresistible Kyle. Villari played the part of the comedic sidekick well, and Walker was able to make his relatively small part a highlight of the show through his delivery and physical humor. The leading roles were supported by an ensemble of spirited sorority girls in the form of a Greek chorus, whose frequent musical interjections (which were admittedly difficult to hear on occasion) left the audience with catchy tunes ringing in their ears.
The simplistic set, which at times seemed to limit the creativity of the staging and the ease with which the actors moved about the stage, was well-constructed and fit the tone of the show. Rather than relying on scenery to set the mood, the crew made much use of the lighting. The continually changing lights on a plain white background, while effective in setting a clear tone and directing the focus of the audience, had the tendency to be slightly overwhelming. This, along with some technical issues with sound, sometimes distracted the audience from the main action. However, the determination and unshakable confidence of the cast kept the show flowing smoothly with no remarkable mishaps.
The lessons and morals of Legally Blonde never cease to be important, and if one looks closely enough, can be found in a multitude of situations in every-day life.