First introduced on the pages of author Amanda Brown’s novel Legally Blonde
, the tenacious character Elle Woods now seems inseparable from actress Reese Witherspoon, who seemed to effortlessly embody the effervescent UCLA sorority president-turned unlikely Harvard Law student in director Robert Luketic’s 2001 dramedy of the same name.
Debuted on Broadway in 2007, the musicalized version follows the same trajectory as the big-screen guilty pleasure (Elle sashays her way from Delta Nu to Harvard Law, naturally with her costumed Chihuahua Bruiser in tow, in an attempt to win her ex back and instead discovers her true calling) but turns up the volume with pink sets fit for a princess, eclectic choreography (including random Riverdance references), a Greek chorus comprised of sorority sisters, and what New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley summed up as a “cherry-soda score of ballads of self-empowerment.” Like other critics, Brantley lamented the absence of Witherspoon in the leading role, specifically missing her “square chin and everything it signifies: grit, smarts, a will to dominate and that soupçon of freakishness that separates a star-in-the-making from the professional beauties.”
After opening to mixed reviews with actress, singer and “self-proclaimed hot mess” Laura Bell Bundy in the leading role, Legally Blonde the Musical ventured into the realm of reality-competition TV to find its next Broadway lead in Bailey Hanks before setting off on a national tour and charming London’s West End with British actress Sheridan Smith in a Laurence Olivier Award-winning role. With a Chinese tour already under her belt, bright-eyed starlet Maris McCulley returns to the stage as Elle in this Big League Productions tour presented by BMW of San Antonio.
$44.50-$89.50, Tue Jan. 22, 7:30pm, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624, tobincenter.org.
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