WHAT “Legally Blonde the Musical,” music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, book by Heather Hach
WHEN | WHERE Through Oct. 29. Upcoming: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson
TICKETS $20-$35; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
As you might expect, a character named for Elle magazine is more concerned with appearance than substance. She doesn’t read Elle for the articles. She flips through to ogle the photos.
In “Legally Blonde the Musical,” now sashaying across the stage at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, we meet Elle Woods at UCLA’s Delta Nu sorority, where her sisters join in a chorus of “Omigod You Guys” as she prepares for the most important date in her life: She’s anticipating a bended-knee proposal by boyfriend Warner Huntington III, bound for Harvard Law School. Instead, he dumps her at dinner, explaining in song that he needs to get “Serious” if he’s to snag a wife who’d be an asset to his political ambitions.
Based on the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon and on Amanda Brown’s novel, the 2007 Broadway musical — nominated for seven Tonys but winning none when “Spring Awakening” obliterated the field — “Legally Blonde” follows the unlikely trajectory of Elle’s plan to retrieve her man. A 4.0 graduate in fashion, Elle (a vivacious-in-pink Brittany Lacey) applies to and is accepted at Harvard Law, where Warner (Chris Brady) is already engaged to a “serious” brunette (Caitlin Nofi). Elle contemplates life as a brunette until her hairdresser talks her out of it: Sari Feldman in an artfully realized comic role gives women equal rights to objectify men, particularly a hunky UPS delivery guy (Kyle Breitenbach).
Mentored by prospective law intern Emmett, played with earnestly nerdy charm by Brett Chizever, Elle garners the attention of Professor Callahan, a snarly Steve McCoy (“Blood in the water / sharks and chum”), as she wins the confidence of a murder-trial defendant, maybe not so innocent as portrayed by Lisa Ganz. A Greek chorus (Amanda Geraci, Jenna Kavaler, Rachel Greenblatt and Emily Gates) accessorize Elle’s quest with delightful diversion as Lacey sells the title character’s determination with counter-intuitive logic. The trial’s turning point may give some cause for complaint in the stereotype-on-steroids numbers “Bend and Snap” and “There! Right There!,” featuring the refrain “Is he gay or European?” Funny but borderline PI (politically incorrect)? You decide.
Jeffrey Sanzel’s direction and Whitney Stone’s choreography keep “Blonde” in the pink (various shades by costume designer Su Jung Weaver), efficiently framed by Randall Parsons’ color-coordinated set. Jeffrey Hoffman’s seven-piece orchestra throbs with a high-heeled beat.
What’s wrong with lightweight fun in heavyweight times?