The campus of Franklin and Marshall had opened its doors to the public shortly after the semester started to the first production of the 2018 F&M Player season. Legally Blonde the musical is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture. There are still three chances to see the show: Friday 7:30PM, Saturday 2:00PM & 7:30PM.
The first song in the musical is an entire ensemble song titled “Omigod You Guys” and he is the moment where we are introduced to some of the major singing roles in the show. Serena (Leah Finkelstein), Margot (Maeve O’Brien), and Pilar (Lily Noble) really set the tone for the rest of the show. These three girls are the best friends of Elle Woods as the primary speaking voice of the Delta Nu girls. Each of these girls brought a different type of humor to the production that actually made the show more enjoyable. Finkelstein never missed a moment to make the audience laugh, and her gymnastics skills were better than expected. O’Brien allowed herself to become her character. She developed that aspect of innocent humor that we usually are missing in modern productions. Noble threw me for a curveball. Her acting was superb but her ability to keep a smile for the entire performance was remarkable.
Shortly after the girls of Delta Nu help Elle choose a dress to wear for her dinner with Warner we really have the first opportunity to hear two of the lead roles sing. Julia Grumbine had the honor of playing Elle Woods in this production, and according to her biography she is only in her first year of college. Her voice is more mature than her age lets on. Grumbine held the notes throughout each of her songs as well as portraying the character sort of like Laura Bell Bundy did during its original Broadway run. Grumbine is joined on stage by Matt Henninger who plays her initial love interest. His voice was one of the best of the night, and it was a shame that his voice got drowned out by the orchestra.
“Chip on my Shoulder” is the first song where we hear Emmett Forrest sing. Charles Romano is a name that we should all remember. His vocal abilities were remarkable as well as professional. He took his role very seriously and it showed wonderfully throughout the performance. Romano kept my interest throughout the entire show, and besides his singing skills his body language matched the situations he was in. Some of the actors that he shared the stage with where stiff and their nerves were noticeable.
Grumbine had her work cut out for her at the end of Act I. “So Much Better” is one of the hardest songs to sing in the Broadway repertoire. At the end of the song there is an incredibly high and long note that most actress that have tackled this role have not been able to hit perfectly. Grumbine however was really close to completing the entire note, and when she knew that she was not going to make it she did not make it apparent to the audience and the show went on.
Act II opens with Brooke Wyndham’s song “Whipped into Shape” where we have the chance to see the talented Bette Scher. Besides Scher’s incredible singing voice she also has stamina. The entirely of the time she is singing she is also doing intense cardio workouts. I have never meant a singer who could jump rope and continue to hit every note correctly. It was one of the best musical numbers of the show.
“Take It Like A Man” is one of my favorite songs in the show. This is the point where Emmett and Elle realize that they love each other. Romano and Grumbine both have voices that melted well together, and it was pleasurable to witness their chemistry on stage. Their awkward tension between each other was felt by the audience and it made us believe that they were slowly but surely falling in love. This song also serves the purpose of humor before we deal with blatant sexism between Callahan and Woods.
The ending of the play is probably one of the best parts of the show. The entire cast joins in to sing “Legally Blonde” and Elle takes the stage to prove that she is more than a pretty face. This production is one the few that I would see again. I enjoyed the singing and dancing as well as the ultimate vision of the play. Mihika Miranda has done a wonderful job creating a masterpiece that I hope that everyone in Central Pennsylvania will go see.