‘Legally Blond’ from film to stage in Westchester

Published: Monday, April 9, 2012 7:00 am By: Tom Holehan Source: Milford-Orange Chronicle

‘Legally Blond’ from film to stage in Westchester
By Tom Holehan, Special to the Post-Chronicle

You don’t have to be a teenage girl to thoroughly enjoy “Legally Blonde.” The Broadway musical version of the hit 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon is currently in a peppy revival at the Westchester Broadway Theatre and its appeal knows no age or gender.

Elle Woods (a perfectly cast Kelly Felthous) is an overtly perky sorority sister who majors in fashion and plans on marrying the man of her dreams, Warner (Robert Patrick Ryan), a handsome preppy on the fast-track to becoming a lawyer. When he unexpectedly dumps her because she’s not “serious”, Elle follows him to Harvard to win him back but discovers she might be “lawyer material,” herself. With serviceable music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hach (based on the original novel by Amanda Brown), “Legally Blonde” will never be confused with Sondheim. It won’t be hard to be way ahead of the plot even if you haven’t seen the movie and the score has a sameness about it that sticks in the head for all the wrong reasons.

Under the swift direction of Jonathan Stahl and energetic choreography of Leisa Mather, however, “Legally Blonde” is an awful lot of fun. Casting of Elle, naturally, is crucial and in Ms. Felthous they have the ideal match of actor and role. Reminiscent of Kristin Chenoweth with her diminutive stature and powerhouse voice, Felthous works magic with this silly role by being so darn likable that she is hard to resist. She can also knock girl-power songs like “What You Want” and “So Much Better” out of the park without ever losing her femininity or expert comic timing. She’s a winner.

As Elle’s blowsy beautician friend Paulette, Jacquelyn Piro Donovan manages to make a tender love ballad like “Ireland” hilarious and bittersweet at the same time. Playing the new woman in Warner’s life, Lauren Blackman demonstrates some serious singing chops in the musical’s second act and both Mr. Ryan and Christopher deProphetis charm as Elle’s past and future romances. But, let’s face it; any musical called “Legally Blonde” is going to delegate its male cast members to the back row in favor of the ladies.

Did I mention the pooches? As if this musical didn’t already have an ample supply of “adorable,” it boasts not one but two dogs that steal scenes with ease. Sure, it’s an easy gimmick but in “Legally Blonde” it still works and it helps that they are expertly trained by the always-in-demand William Berloni. One might wish that there were a few more voices in the ensemble at Westchester, but most people won’t mind. This cute-as-a-button musical moves along at a clip while ensuring everyone leaves with a smile on their face. Why resist?

“Legally Blonde” continues at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, N.Y., through April 29. For ticket reservations, call the theatre box office at 914-592-2222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company.  He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.