“Legally Blonde” is exciting and humorous despite challenges


From Feb. 3rd to Feb. 6th BHS Performing Arts Department delivered their rendition of the smash hit Broadway Musical “Legally Blonde”

When it comes to putting on a good performance, the cast of “Legally Blonde” is guilty as charged.

From Feb. 3 to Feb. 6, students sang, danced and acted their hearts out in the Performing Arts Department’s production of “Legally Blonde.”

Adapted from the largely popular 2001 film of the same name, “Legally Blonde” follows the journey of the famously perky Elle Woods (senior Helen Ives), a UCLA sorority girl who finds her life turned upside down when her boyfriend Warner (junior Miles Luther) dumps her. In an effort to prove to Warner that she is more than just some “dumb blonde” and to regain his love, she follows him to Harvard Law School. Despite struggling to fit in at first, her confidence, strong work ethic and determination ultimately lead her to find her true sense of self, achieve great success and overcome adversity.

From live dogs to a dynamic set, the Performing Arts Department masterfully executed the plot in a captivating way, even while grappling with some of the challenges that came with the script.

There were a number of notable performers in the musical, but Helen Ives’s rendition of Elle Woods was particularly spectacular. Helen Ives maintained a giddy and humorous flamboyance and the right amount of confidence and wit. It was impossible not to be in awe of her clear, beautiful tone.

The show tackled serious topics such as sexism and sexual harassment, and yet the cast was able to portray these topics in a way that created the most powerful scenes in the show. In the second act, Elle’s professor Mr. Callahan (senior Tilden Lin) makes a sexual advance on her, and Elle rejects and slaps him. This moment, though devastating, prompts Elle to begin to realize her true potential in life. A few scenes later, at her hair salon, other women around her pick her up and inspire her to not let men define her dreams or set her limits.

Despite these serious moments, Paulette (junior Abigail Mokady) and UPS guy Kyle (sophomore Nathan Ives) provided much-needed comedic relief throughout the show. Nathan Ives stole the show, even with his limited stage time. He would saunter across the stage and tip his cap to the audience, which garnered many laughs and cheers. Mokady’s resonant singing, despite being masked, was able to make even the most comedic of topics, such as finding an Irish lover, raw and emotional.

The choreography in the show was excellent. Every cast member impressed with their dancing skills, executing detailed, challenging choreography with grace in every song.

Freshman Julia Price put on an impressive performance as Brooke Wyndham, especially while leading the song “Whipped Into Shape,” in which the cast performed a complicated jump rope routine while singing. I was out of breath just watching!

The three main sorority girls (senior Hannah Schlosberg, junior Katya Sacharow and sophomore Lily Kaufman) also excelled in all realms of performing. All three boasted strong singing, dancing and acting skills. They were supported by a wonderful ensemble and all their voices came together harmoniously in songs such as “Omigod You Guys” and “Bend and Snap.”

The auditorium’s elaborate sound system is often hard to manage, and it was difficult to hear some people, including the main characters, at times. Nonetheless, the cast persevered, even when they had to really project to be heard.

There were certain stereotypes and references throughout the script that were problematic. Though “Legally Blonde” is a 2001 film and the musical adaptation is from 2007, there was certainly an opportunity to further revise aspects of the musical to better fit our current time. The depiction of gay people relied heavily on blatant stereotyping, specifically in the song “There! Right There!,” even after the Performing Arts Department cut many parts of the song. There didn’t appear to be any condemnation of the harmful stereotypes portrayed during the performance, which seemed to normalize them.

In the musical rendition of this story, graduate student Emmett Forrest (sophomore Benji Kaufman) is the primary reason why Elle becomes motivated to succeed at Harvard. A powerful moment in the original movie is when Elle wins a legal argument between Paulette and Paulette’s ex-husband Dewey (senior Camryn Lezama). In the musical version, instead of accomplishing it on her own, Emmett constantly gives her hints or clues about what to do. This is further demonstrated when Emmett sings that the reason for Elle’s drive and success is because “some wise man told her.”

One of the strongest messages in the movie is the independence and self-assurance that Elle is able to carry with her, and in this musical, it felt like these characteristics were attributed to a man. Broadway’s rewrite, which the Performing Arts Department closely followed, detracted from the female empowerment aspect of Elle Woods’s story, which is so central to the overarching message of “Legally Blonde.”

Nonetheless, “Legally Blonde” was a strong, humorous production that offered a chance for the community to finally return to the magic of live musicals. Regardless of the challenges that arose with putting on a 2001 film and some flaws in the musical rendition, the cast of “Legally Blonde” was able to dazzle the audience with their impressive talents and hard work.