Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The School of Arts at Dean College’s fall musical is “Legally Blonde, the Musical” which is based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 movie which starred Reese Witherspoon. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and home coming queen who doesn’t take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner dumps her for someone more “serious”, she puts down the books, heads to Harvard Law School to win him back. Along the way Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. She also discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others and defends fitness guru, Brooke Windham from murder charges. Director Ali Angelone creates a high energy contemporary musical with her keen insight into these comic characters while musical director taught them all these musical numbers does so while playing lead keyboards and conducting a seven piece orchestra. Ali who is also the choreographer, supplies the dance numbers that stop the show with their power and execution. Their combined expertise wins the cast a standing ovation at the curtain call.
Ali casts these roles splendidly and obtains topnotch performances from her cast. Her magnificent dance numbers are breathtaking and terrifically executed by these young performers. I first reviewed Ali when she was a student at RIC in “Charlie Brown” back in 2000. Leading this cast is Sierra Key who is dynamite as Elle. I last reviewed her last year in “Into the Woods” as Red Riding Hood. Sierra appears in almost every scene of the show and makes the transition from blonde bubble head sorority girl into a novice lawyer excellently. Her strong voice and dancing prowess astound the audience. Her numbers include “Omigod, You Guys”, “What You Want”, “So Much Better” and the emotionally draining “Legally Blonde” duet with Emmett. Sierra delivers the goods in this huge role. Brava! Nicholas Maturo plays the sympathetic role of Emmett who saves the day for Elle by training her to be a good student and lawyer. His voice soars in his songs as he gives a winning portrayal of this kind and caring individual. Nicholas sings “Harvard Variations”, “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Legally Blonde” with Sierra which leaves a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat at their tender rendering of this duet.
Briana Bronzetti as Paulette is the biggest scene stealer in this show. She is a pretty red head and her fabulous voice soars in her first number “Ireland” which tells the audience what kind of men she likes. The song is majestic and her voice fills the whole theater with its power. Briana has the funniest one liners in the show including “Does she have three tits?”, “The New UPS man is like walking porn” and “Cheerleaders scare me.” I last reviewed her at Dean in “Into the Woods” as Jack’s mother. Another highlight is when she sings “Bend and Snap” with the cheerleaders when she finally meets the Irishman of her dreams Kyle who is well played by Ethan Kraus. His strut as this comical character wins many laughs.
The smarmy Professor Callahan is played by Viguens Louis. He puts the moves on Elle and tries to get her fired from Brooke’s case but gets his comeuppance in the end. He and Sierra lead the funniest song in the show “Gay or European” with comic performances from Kyle Domek as Nikos and Michael Killeen as Carlos when they spill the beans in the courtroom.
Playing the cad Warner who dumps Elle is tall, dark and handsome, Shaun DeOliveira who played Rapunzel’s Prince last year. Jacqueline Carpino tackles the role of Vivienne who first appears as a bitch on wheels but later witnesses Callahan’s awful behavior towards Elle and belts out a jazzy version of “Legally Blonde.” The show stopping jump rope and exercise dance is brilliantly performed by the cast with Rachel Rome doing a dynamic job as Brooke. She sings “Whipped Into Shape” with some excellent choreography by Ali in it. Other comic performers are Gioia Sabatinelli as Enid who has many funny lines as this feminist character and Marissa Browning as Serena, Casey Banville as Margot and Jean-Marie Neave as Pilar, who appear as the Greek chorus and cheerleader pals of Elle. They are a hoot in these roles and fantastic dancers and vocalists, too. Kudos to the whole cast and crew on this terrific musical. So for a marvelous rollicking version of a contemporary musical, be sure to catch “Legally Blonde” before they dance out of town for good. Tell them Tony sent you.
15 to 19 November
Main Stage, Dean College, 99 High St, Franklin, MA