Hannah Bonnett donned the pink platforms of Elle Woods last night and charmed the audience in the role made famous by Reece Witherspoon. She wasn't alone, the cast and ensemble of Legally Blonde are set to take one of the funnest and funniest musicals on the road, but they can still be "serious" too.
In an interview ahead of the show's tech run* at the Walton Arts Center, Bonnett revealed that the musical, based on the 2001 movie and the MTV musical from 2007, was updated for 2022 by incorporating social media "posts" from TikTok and Instagram into the musical's background with humorous projections often worked into the set. Other updates include Elle telling her folks that she's going to Harvard over Facetime. Elle dissuades Khloe Khardashian instead of Cameron Diaz from buying that disturbing orange over pink. At one point she mentions living next door to Timothée Chalamet.
The core story remains unchanged however, and again, Bonnett has the same perky, positive energy that makes audience love Elle -- the pink clad underdog who goes to Harvard Law School for love and confronts sexism, snobbery and stereotypes by being true to herself.
The supporting cast deserves snaps as well. Ashley Morton is hilarious as Paulette, Elle's beautician and friend. Watch out for her skillful Irish dancing with her UPS guy. A word about that UPS guy -- played by Matthew Dean Hollis -- he nearly stole every scene and was easily the most recognizable member of the ensemble. However, I'd wager that ensemble member Brandon Moreno has a perfect bend and snap based on his gravity-defying drop. James Oblak has some serious boy band energy that makes the smug, self-centered Warner Huntington III that much funnier. Chris Carsten's double duty as Elle's dad and Professor Callahan is nothing short of remarkable -- I even heard audience members mentioning him after the show. The Delta Nu sisters kept up both Bonnett's positive energy and the crowd's laughter -- in fact I'd say that Bonnett is putting her former cheerleading career to good use with this musical. Aathaven Tharmarajah played a very warm and sweet Emmett Forrest. Lea Sevola as Vivienne, Elle's foil turned friend, has a powerful voice and brings a nice aloofness to the character made famous by Selma Blair.
The combination of the familiar story plus a flawless ensemble makes this musical the perfect excuse to pull some pink out of the closet and head to the theater. Be sure to check out the show's signature pink cocktails -- the fruity Bend and Snap or The Bruiser during the show's run this weekend.
* A tech run is when a show is rehearsed and debuted in theater for the first time with lighting, scenery and sound.