Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Legally Blonde: Praise the Power of Pink!
As flawlessly played by Virginia Asbury, Elle can have anything she sets her mind toand she wants Harvard Law and Warner Huntington III (Stafford Douglas), not necessarily in that order. Urged on by her friends, who become a kind of Greek chorus commenting on various scenes, Elle goes to law school and finds that Warner has a new girlfriend, Vivienne (Angelique Felice, a real belter, in her ALT debut). That's a bummer, but Elle has special knowledge and talents that eventually come to the fore to help her as an intern for Professor Callahan (B. Chris Armijo). Callahan's legal assistant, Emmett Forrest (Bryan Durden), becomes a good friend.
The male actors are everything they should be, but this show belongs to the women. We should all have such an enthusiastic, supportive cohort of BFFs. They sing, dance and glam up the stage with youthful energy and charm. Special mention goes to the chorus of three, Rachel Blount (Serena), Sage Herrick (Margot), and Latasha Whitmore (Pilar), for their talented back-up.
Another must-mention is Erin Allen as Brooke Wyndham, exercise queen, who sings Whipped into Shape while doing the most intensive workout you've ever seen, without getting winded. Song-and-dance men wept.
But Courtney Awe as Elle's newest friend, hairdresser/manicurist Paulette Bonafonte, is the absolute standout among the supporting cast. When Elle walks into the salon to make herself a brunette so she can compete with Warner's serious girlfriend, Paulette schools her on the virtues of being yourself. Awe sings "Ireland," Paulette's paean to romance, with real hope and guts. You'll look forward to her comic timing and touching scenesespecially the ones aided and abetted by Samuel Glinsmann as the UPS guy who really delivers.
Director Bill Potenziani was responsible for the one of the best musicals I've seen in Albuquerque, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, also at ALT, and he handles this large cast with aplomb. Scenic designers Vic Browder and Daniel K. Tabeling have done a professional job on the versatile sets, and choreographer Peter Bennett, who recently took on The King and I at ALT, amazes me with the depth and breadth of his knowledge of, and love for, American musicals. Shelly Andes ably hustles the performers through recorded musical numbers. Everybody keeps up.
This show offers many delights, not the least of which is the fastest costume change in the West. "Omigod You Guys," what a treat!
Through November 1, 2015 at Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale Ave SW, Albuquerque. For tickets and information, call 505-242-4750 or visit albuquerquelittletheatre.org
Photo: Randy Talley Photography