As a movie, Legally Blonde has had a profound cultural impact. No, really! Few sources of entertainment can easily unite both those who loved sorority life and those who snarkily avoided it, those who unironically consider themselves girlbosses and those with a more nuanced understanding of feminism. The musical based on the 2001 film adeptly carries on that universally appealing campy-yet-inspirational, farcical-yet-aspirational balance, garnering countless fans (many of whom wear pink to the show in solidarity with the main character) for reasons that are on full display by the Legally Blonde national tour currently finishing its run at the Kravis Center.
This particular production of Legally Blonde is noticeably fast-paced. On one hand, that eliminates the possibility of the audience feeling like a scene is dragging, which never happens in this energetic adaptation; on the other hand, it unspokenly expects the audience to have seen the movie or at least have a pretty solid sense of the story: Stereotypical but sharp blonde sorority girl, Elle, gets dumped by shallow Harvard Law-headed boyfriend, Warner, inspiring Elle to get into the Ivy League school herself to win him back, only to discover a highly capable new side of herself — and new love, of course. And while that’s not a terribly complicated plot to catch on to if you’re going in completely uninformed, many of the establishing and milestone moments feel rushed and minimized.
This, of course, isn’t the fault of the cast, which is packed with truly impressive vocal chops. Elle, played by Hannah Bonnett, is almost always onstage, making her tirelessly impeccable vocals an even more admirable feat. As soon as we’re introduced to Warner, played by James Oblak, we’re also introduced to a voice seemingly developed in a lab to sound like the lead singer of a boyband. Throughout the show, other supporting and featured characters continually floor the audience with out-of-the-blue instances of stunning singing, like Lea Sevola’s Vivienne, Ashley Morton’s Paulette, and Harley Barton’s Enid. And it’s easy to see why Elle would eventually fall for Emmett considering Woody White’s portrayal includes a beautiful voice you’re left wanting to hear more of.
Legally Blonde is an animated show — in multiple ways, one being the often cleverly comical choreography that elevates the show’s already high energy. But it’s also literally animated. The set is almost entirely digital, offering instantly-transforming scenery, visual metaphors (a shark is seen swimming around menacingly while Chris Carsten’s Professor Callahan sings “Blood in the Water”), and clear clues that the show has been updated to take place not in the early 2000s (like the costumes suggest) but in 2023: overflowing emojis, song lyrics conveyed in iMessage-esque conversations, and familiar social media references. In fact, the digital backdrop is used in such a way that it makes one of the most notoriously arduous numbers in all of musical theater, “Whipped Into Shape,” a little easier on the cast by presenting the first half of the song as a pre-recorded TikTok video.