Nancy Sasso Janis
- OnStage Connecticut Critic
“I may be blonde, but I’m not that blonde.” - Elle Woods
Waterbury, CT - ‘Legally Blonde The Musical’ is always big on energetic dancing, glitter and PINK, and the current production at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is all of that.
Director/choreographer Janine Molinari likens her tasks to the journey taken by the show’s central character named Woods, Elle: “She is faced with many challenges and what seems like insurmountable obstacles. However, in her true pink and glittery modern hero fashion, her resilient self refuses to take no for an answer.” Ms. Molinari had two weeks and 29 multi-talented New York and local actors (including one dog) and Elle’s positive attitude to make it work. 7A Artistic Director Semina DeLaurentis explains that Actor’s Equity Association gives the theatre “the allowance to outreach to a certain number of local performers, giving them the opportunity and experience to work alongside professional actors, directors, choreographers and designers.” In this production, it is sometimes difficult to tell which is which because all are so talented.
So Elle’s story is much more than a ball of pink glitter. It is really a story about conflict with her peers, reaching one’s true potential, and looking beyond one’s appearance. The director puts it this way: “Staying focused on ‘what you want’ will lead to things you never dreamt you could accomplish and ‘being true to yourself never goes out of style.’”
‘Legally Blonde’ features music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin with a book by Heather Hach. It is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM motion picture of the same name with Reese Witherspoon as Elle. In this production, Lawson Young takes on the role of the blonde one and “Omigod You Guys,” she is spectacular. She is adorable and tough, and nailed endearingly the comedy. Although this young actress recently portrayed this role in another production, the chemistry between her and this cast is obvious. She sings with a wonderful voice, does some “Serious” dancing and made everyone in the audience root for her character up to and including the curtain call.
The cast that surrounds this young powerhouse works hard to keep up and they succeed. Miranda Rivas as Margot, Adena Ershow as Serena and Stephanie Bissonnette as Pilar all deliver a peppy performance, while May Tae Harge, Megan Schwartz, Erica Stango and Danielle Spinello are other Delta Nus. The graceful Nina Paganucci played Whitney and a sorority sister. Naysh Fox portrays the vapid object of Elle’s affection named Warner and Richard Lafleur sang so well as young lawyer and Elle’s best friend Emmett.
Laine Levitt is strident as Harvard student Enid and Boe Wank is a riot as Kiki the Colorist at the salon. Holly Martin plays against type to be Warner’s new girlfriend, the uptight Vivienne. WATR’s Tom Chute, a supporter of 7A for the past 25 years, takes a break from broadcasting duties to play the evil Professor Callahan and sang smoothly on “Blood in the Water.” Molly Winter Stewart plays the accused fitness expert Brooke and Sean Burns is the slick Nikos discussed in “Gay or European.” Keland Alaka’i Sarno plays the other half of the gay couple. Jackie Nuzzo makes her 7A debut as a fabulous Paulette Buonafonte. Don’t miss the buff Alec Varcas as Grandmaster Chad, Dewey, and most importantly the UPS guy named Kyle who has his own signature music while the audience watches him walk away.
Frankie, rescued from the Meriden CT Humane Society by William Berloni, plays Bruiser Woods and holds the record for doing more performances of this show than any human or canine actor. Other community theatre friends include Patti Paganucci, Diane Magas, Carletha Hawley, Theresa B. Amico and assistant director James Donohue.
Bobby Gouse served as associate choreographer of the spirited dance numbers. Daniel Husvar was both technical director and scenic designer and Irene Ludeman did the terrific costumes for one and all. (You won’t be able to miss Elle’s graduation cap and gown.) The lighting designed by Matt Guminski is sometimes pink and always flattering. Musical Directors are Dan Pardo and TJ Thompson and the musicians squeezed into the corner sounded fabulous.
The closing production of 7A’s 25th season runs through June 19 at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.
Photo of Lawson Young and Tom Chute in 'Legally Blonde' by Seven Angels Theatre