The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Legally Blonde
Organization McLaughlin Theatre Company
Date(s) of show August 7-16, 2015
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review It's been a long time since I've seen a musical by the McLaughlin Theatre Company, and this production of Legally Blonde, made me sorry for all the earlier shows I've missed. In addition, this was my first experience with the McLaughlin Studio Theatre, and I was surprised how well it was suited to a musical comparable to Rocklin's Finnish Temperance Hall, and perhaps a bit more versatile.

This is the second production of Legally Blonde that I've seen, and to me it's a delightful story: the apparently fatuous UCLA sorority girl (Elle) is dumped by her boyfriend (Warner) who decides he must be "serious" now that he's on his way to Harvard Law School. She manages to get accepted herself to Harvard Law, and after many ups and downs, she achieves success while making new friends.

A musical rises or falls on the quality of the singing, and I thought the leads (Melissa Brausch, Jared Capper, Alexander Greening, and Zane Boyer) displayed fine voices. Similarly, some of the acting in the show really stood out to me. I thought that Zane Boyer captured the character of Professor Callahan perfectly. And Jared Capper, as graduate assistant, Emmett Forrest, was credible as Elle's new friend and eventual love interest. As for Melissa Brausch, she was dynamite as Elle. She just sparkled with personality that went beyond good acting technique. She didn't just play the part; she inhabited it. To me, it felt like she gave everything she had to each dance, song or bit of dialog, with a performance that was nothing short of riveting. Her bio in the program said that she hopes to have a career in the theater, and from what I saw, she has the talent to make it happen.

Elle's 6 sorority sisters were an important part of the show, injecting great energy with their singing and dancing from the very first number, "Omigod You Guys." In fact, there were many big numbers that were impressively staged and performed, and Elle's appearance before the Harvard Law admissions committee in "What You Want" was especially memorable, with great drum work from the band, and overflowing energy from the performers. "Whipped into Shape" was another outstanding number, with choreography that included jump ropes. These big numbers were greatly enhanced by the live band of 5 instrumentalists, led by Greg McLaughlin. They gave solid support in each musical number, but I also especially appreciated their (usually jazz) interludes during set changes.

I've seen a lot of excellent musicals with high school-only casts. And this production featured mostly high school and college students (or young people of those ages). But it also had a fair sprinkling of adults, most notably Heather Chapin who, "return[ing] to the stage after a 20-year absence," nailed her big song, "Ireland."

The show is a comedy, and supplementing the genuinely funny script were many humorous (no doubt director-inspired) touches that kept me laughing. And of course, many of the numbers were overtly funny, of which "There! Right There!" with its recurring line, "gay or European," was the best example. But although this show plays for laughs, it is also full of sentiment, and in my opinion Director/Choreographer Michelle Felten, with the support of a committed and talented cast and crew, captured the heart of Legally Blonde. It was a quality production that made me resolve not to miss another of McLaughlin Theatre Company's "Main Stage" productions.

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