South Pasadena High School’s production of Legally Blonde is a fizzy, pink, sugar rush of a cocktail that serves up plenty of high octane singing and dancing while delivering a message of self-love with unabashed, heart on its sleeve sincerity. The movie turned musical is the story of Malibu blonde, UCLA cheerleader, Elle Woods, and her journey as she heads off to Harvard to prove her “serious” cred to win back her “sure to be a Senator one day” boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. Once at Harvard, Elle realizes she’s not in So Cal anymore and is faced with one obstacle after another, including Warner’s new “Jackie Kennedy” girlfriend and a tough as nails law professor, that has her losing confidence and, gasp, considering dying her hair brown! But fear not, her hairdresser and new best friend, Paulette, talks her out of it and through hard work and a little help from her friends, Elle discovers her true self, her calling and even a new love.
It’s the biggest, most ambitious production in SPHS history that saw close to 100 students participating from the large cast to crew, production, design and orchestra. Pulling it all together beautifully is director, Nick Hoffa, so deft at delivering a seamless, entertaining pace while always bringing focus to the important and poignant moments that make you feel something more. And feel we do, as Elle, played by a transcendent Lindsey Calva, takes a funny and moving journey, transforming before our eyes into a woman who knows what she wants and where she’s going. Calva knocks it out of the park on all things “Elle” from the splashy choreography to the all pink, fashionista wardrobe but it is in the quiet moments of vulnerability that Calva shines the most, giving Elle an unexpected depth that connects.
Playing opposite Calva as the loveable, corduroy-wearing teacher’s assistant, Emmett, is a perfectly cast Andres Oyaga. You root for him from his first corny joke through his “Take It Like A Man” transformation (one of the show’s highlights) to the emotional heights of his relationship with Elle. Calva and Oyaga have chemistry that sparkles and Oyaga gives Emmett the perfect blend of charm and just pure, authentic heartbreak.
Cole Fox is a hoot as Paulette, clearly relishing sinking her teeth into the sassy, Bostonian hairdresser and new best friend of Elle. Fox has charisma for days and the vocal pipes to match, making Paulette’s numbers incredibly fun to watch. Having a blast and receiving some of the biggest laughs of the night was David Szilagyi as the hunky UPS man who sweeps Paulette off her feet. The Irish jig they do, eventually joined by the ensemble, is ridiculous fun.
Wressey Baugham is a standout as the slick and intimidating law professor, Callahan, turning in a show-stopping performance of the sinister “Blood In The Water”. Jackson Monical perfectly pulls off the rather shallow, narcissistic boyfriend, Warner, while somehow managing to make us feel for him when he gets dumped and cheer for him when his future career is revealed. Seia Gamble brings an understated yet delightfully salty attitude to Warner’s serious girlfriend, Vivienne, and delivers one of the more touching moments of sisterhood in the show.
Rose McCollough, as a fitness guru accused of her husband’s murder, injects the proceedings with a jolt of pure adrenaline opening the second act with a dynamic and impressive jump rope number, “Whipped Into Shape”. Joining McCollough’s Brooke Wyndham were her fellow inmates at the women’s correctional facility performing the ebullient, Courtney Cheyne choreography and rope tricks that had the audience cheering. McCollough brings a terrific toughness to Brooke and eventually a sweet vulnerability in her relationship with Elle. Did I mention this show has a lot of girl power moments?
Making this show exceedingly entertaining is the energy and chutzpah of the entire ensemble, all of whom play multiple parts from the sorority sisters of Delta Nu, to Harvard faculty, family members, cheerleaders, law students and even a hysterical, singing Greek Chorus that exists mostly in Elle’s mind. Linus Woods and Christian Villasenor brought the house down with their reveal and dance in the priceless number “There, Right There” and Sydney Davis Denny gets big laughs in that scene among many others as Enid Hoops. Grace Chavez and Aiden Blake are perfect as Elle’s Malibu, golf-playing parents and Isa Recendez goes all in on both rapper Grandmaster Chad and the oh so badly permed Chutney.
The rest of this stellar cast is rounded out beautifully by Anna Gale, Ashely Kwon, Kayla Nielsen, Elizabeth Bock, Teddy Baker, Eleanor Imel, Ella Jabalameli, Jeanine Talamante, Joy Moranon-Singh, Yoli Patzkowski, Canela Gutierrez, June Lundin, Zana Maslesa, Tabitha Okitsu, Leslie Valasco, Tanner Holmes, Cami Cartland, Piper Fleming, Julianna Chabot, Lindsay Michels, Sofia Fineza, Bella Solomon, Amber Chen, Grace Denis, Phoebe Dickinson, Ava Page, Rena Pau, Levi Srabalus, Lulu Talesnick, Paris Hoffman, Kaitlyn Tam, Jackie Maldonado, Louisa Petrillo, Simon Pierce, and Calla Timmerman.
Did I say it was a gigantic cast? Oh and there are real live dogs playing Bruiser and Rufus, played for the ultimate awws by cast pets Ivy, Sully, and Tinkerbell.
The show is big, vibrant and big-time satirical but it is also a boldly feminine and fierce shout out for every human to love themselves exactly as they are. More of that please.
Legally Blonde: The Musical (directed by Nick Hoffa, technical direction by James Jontz, musical direction by Lia Jones, choreography by Courtney Cheyne) runs Friday April 26th & Saturday April 27th, 7pm, and Sunday matinee April 28th 2pm. Main Auditorium, South Pasadena High School, 1401 Fremont Ave. South Pasadena.