A beloved, witty story brimming with confidence, style and a love for the color pink, “Legally Blonde” has found new life at UC Berkeley as BareStage Productions’ latest musical. With a flourishing legacy to uphold, BareStage’s version of this classic story lives up to it all — complete with excellent performances from an astonishing cast, captivating choreography and incredible music in every scene, “Legally Blonde” isn’t to be missed.
“Legally Blonde” follows sorority girl Elle Woods (Avery Moss) from UCLA to Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Eric Miller), who dumped her for not being “serious” enough as he claims he needs a girlfriend who is “less of a Marilyn, more of a Jackie.” Upon her arrival at campus, Elle is largely outcast due to her glamorous appearance, especially by Warner’s new girlfriend, Vivienne (Kamilah Cole). Nevertheless, Elle pushes forward with the support of her loyal sorority sisters, new friends Paulette (Jinan Al-Marayati) and Emmett (Nathan Corbett) and her fashion know-how to succeed in her studies and career.
The musical opens with the quintessential opening number “Omigod You Guys,” which exemplifies many of the production’s greatest strengths. The song effectively introduces the network of sisterly support present throughout the musical as well as Elle’s quick wit. The song’s standout characteristic, however, is simply how fun it is — from the very first minute of bubbly lyrics to the energizing music from the talented orchestra, beaming audiences are drawn into the musical’s merriment. The opening number flaunts strong music, lyricism, choreography and stunning cast performances, providing a compelling start for a show that will only continue upward.
“Omigod You Guys” is just one of an entire list of exceptional songs. Every song in the musical is catchy and memorable; audiences should prepare to have at least a couple numbers stuck in their heads for the next few days after experiencing the show’s magic for themselves. There is not a single dull number nor moment in the musical, a rare feat for even the most celebrated productions. The music builds a fantastic foundation for the story throughout the show, instilling even more brightness and excitement with every number.
The choreography in “Legally Blonde,” by Kaitlyn Scadina Mansfield, is also highly deserving of recognition. Particularly noteworthy numbers are “Bend and Snap,” where the famous maneuver is implemented into a complete sequence for the company, and “What You Want,” where Elle and a whole squad of cheerleaders furiously dance their way to the admission officer’s heart. The production makes full use of its substantial cast and their collective aptitude for movement to add an extra layer of impressive showmanship to the musical, showing once again that “Legally Blonde” has not only thought of everything but also successfully executed it all.
A robust soundtrack and choreography can’t reach their full potential without an extraordinary cast, and BareStage meets the challenge. Each member of the cast performs with passion and fervor, bringing the bold personalities in “Legally Blonde” to life. Though the entire cast shines, a couple performers stand out in particular. Al-Marayati gives an outstanding performance as Paulette, Elle’s spunky beautician friend and fellow hopeless romantic. Al-Marayati’s Paulette is hilarious yet tender-hearted, and she shows off an incredibly strong singing voice in “Ireland.”
The most impressive performance goes to Moss, who plays the lead role of Elle. Moss awes as a musical theater powerhouse, evidently giving 110% to acting, singing and dancing. She effortlessly sings demanding numbers, downplaying the difficulty of each song, and carries on with full power throughout the musical’s 150 minutes without breaking a sweat. Moss’ interpretation of Elle is loyal, yet she still adds her own flair; lovable, headstrong and selfless, Moss makes Elle a joy to watch succeed.
Radiating cheer and energy from the Choral Rehearsal Hall, Barestage Productions’ “Legally Blonde” blows all expectations out of the water.