Legally Blonde is a blast from start to finish

Music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Book by Heather Hach. Based on a story by Amanda Brown. Directed by Valerie Easton. A Theatre Under the Stars production. At Malkin Bowl on Wednesday, July 10. Continues in rep until August 17

This production of Legally Blonde is a giant-size Gucci bag stuffed with talent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Theatre Under the Stars production so deeply well-cast and fully realized. It’s a blast from start to finish.

Based on the Reese Witherspoon movie, which was drawn from Amanda Brown’s book, Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, who gets dumped by her boyfriend, Warner, just when she thinks he’s going to propose. Warner, who’s heading off to Harvard Law School, wants “somebody classy and not too tacky”. Determined to win him back, the finger-snapping, positive-thinking Elle, who has a 4.0 grade-point average—in fashion merchandising—brushes up her SAT score and lands a spot in Harvard law herself.

Bimbos are the most appealing clowns the goddess ever invented, and Elle is a classic bimbo. Because they’re innocent and effervescent, bimbos look foolish at first, but their hearts are true and, in their most moving variations, they turn out to be wise. (If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and watch Judy Holliday in the 1950 movie Born Yesterday.) Elle, one of the smart ones, soon realizes that she can use her unique perspective and legal smarts to do good.

The musical has fun with girlie airheadedness. The first song is titled “Omigod You Guys”. And the show revels in Elle’s pop-culture acuity. When she suspects that one of the players in a murder trial might not be as straight as he claims—because he’s not interested in her ass—the entire courtroom breaks into Legally Blonde’s best number, which asks the musical question “Is he gay or European?”

Breanne Arrigo knocks it out of the park, more or less literally, as Elle. A powerful belter with great comic timing, Arrigo never loses sight of the character’s emotional truth. Peter Cumins makes a golden-voiced, charmingly caddish Warner, and Scott Walters balances that with his openhearted work as Emmett, Warner’s geeky rival for Elle’s heart. (In bimbo stories, there’s always a cad and a geek.)

As Brooke, the exercise queen and murder suspect, Katie Murphy aces the ridiculously difficult “Whipped Into Shape”, and Warren Kimmel, one of the best musical-theatre performers in town, delivers an authoritative performance as Callahan, the nasty law prof. Andrea Bailey plays Vivienne, who starts off as the mean girl in law school, and even in ensemble numbers you can hear the impressive power and range of her voice. In this deep talent pool, Marissa Dunbar, Emily Henney, and Synthia Yusuf work it like there’s no tomorrow as Elle’s sorority sisters.

Director Valerie Easton deserves huge credit for casting this production so well, for polishing it so beautifully, and for delivering crazily sassy, infectiously energetic choreography.

Good times.

Join the discussion

We're now using Facebook for comments.
Read Old Comments


Emily Henney

Jul 12, 2013 at 7:12am

Thank you for the mention! I thought you should know that it's Marissa Dunbar who plays Margot, not Melissa Dunbar.

Miranda Nelson

Jul 12, 2013 at 9:31am

Thanks Emily, we've updated it!

Colin Thomas GS

Jul 12, 2013 at 10:43am

Yes, thanks Emily. Sorry, Marissa.
Have a great run!

Susan Pate

Jul 12, 2013 at 12:15pm

Saw the show on opening night! Congrats to everyone but especially to our own Marissa Dunbar who we are so proud of for landing the part as Margot in her debut in the theatre world!


Jul 12, 2013 at 7:33pm

So glad we have TUTS every summer.
Saw Music Man last year-great!!

It is just magic to sit outside on a hot summer's night and watch talented performerers putting on a wonderful show.

Will be getting tickets to Legally Blonde and really looking forward to another night under the stars!


Jul 13, 2013 at 7:20am

How about tragedy instead of comedy for next years TUTS? Making people laugh is NOT the basis of good entertainment--though clearly the entertainment industry thinks it is.


Jul 13, 2013 at 2:26pm

For Hazlit:

I'm guessing you did not attend Titanic the Musical last summer at TUTS. I would definitely consider that a "tragedy".

I would also challenge you come up with a list of big cast family friendly musicals that are tragedies... West Side Story is the first to come to mind to me...


Jul 14, 2013 at 7:40am

For Chris,

I don't attend musicals nor do I care for "family-friendly" fare. Both of these genres create empty entertainment that does not expand the mind. However, it is entirely possible to produce art that appeals to children and educates as well as entertaining.

george s

Jul 15, 2013 at 11:40am


if you don't attend musicals and you are criticizing TUTS for its choices, then you are


and should get a life...