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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Theatre review: Legally Blonde is sweetly optimistic and bursting with energy

Production does not seek to break any molds or push boundaries, but is content to simply entertain

Based on the film of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon, Align Entertainment breaks out the big guns for another massive production with Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Staged in the beautiful Michael J. Fox theatre, the show is like a sweet sixteen high on Redbull – sweetly optimistic and bursting with energy.

Elle Woods (Julia Ullrich) is a Malibu barbie come sorority queen looking to marry her Ken Doll boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Stuart Barkley). But when Warner leaves her for more “serious” options at Harvard, Elle follows. Through literal trials and errors, Elle succeeds in discovering her potential without the smarmy man-child Warner, as a fashion-forward lawyer.

Ullrich’s Elle is bubbly and athletic, with a gorgeous buttery voice that effortlessly belts out number after number. Barkley’s Warner is suitably slimy, but hides a quiet comedic flair that prevents him from being wholly unlikable.

Best friend, turned beau, Emmett, played with sweet shtick by Victor Hunter, is a treat but the show is stolen by Jennifer Suratos’ Ireland obsessed Paulette. Quick comedic takes, killer choreography, and a tear-inducing solo bring this supporting player to the forefront.

The lighting and sound by Robert Sondergaard and Tim Lang respectively, highlight the necessary changes without ever feeling pushy. Brian Ball’s set design has an intentional “do-it-yourself” aesthetic, with roughly drawn lines on otherwise straight walls, that feels a bit at odds with Julie White’s spot-on costume design, but this is a small quibble in an otherwise solid show.

Align Entertainment’s Legally Blonde: the Musical does not seek to break any molds or push any boundaries. It is a story we have seen before and will see again. It is a candy-coated smile factory that simply seeks to entertain. On all counts, it succeeds.

Legally Blonde: The Musical. Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. Directed by Chad Matchette. An Align Entertainment Inc. production on stage at the Michael J. Fox Theatre (7373 Macpherson Ave, Burnaby) until February 17. Visit for tickets and information.

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