Sarah Brodsky ’15 and cast shine in ‘Legally Blonde’

Sarah Brodsky ’15 and cast shine in ‘Legally Blonde’

March 27, 2015

After months of anticipation for Elle Woods and her colorful (mostly pink) life, the Undergraduate Theater Collective’s production of “Legally Blonde” premiered this Thursday, March 26. Attended by a 250-person strong audience, the show was presented by Brandeis University’s Hillel Theater Group (HTG) and directed by Alison Thvedt ’15.

After waiting in a line that extended from the entrance of the Shapiro Campus Center Theater to the Einstein’s exit, audience members were ushered to their seats. The show featured beautifully made mobile stage decorations, which served to move the viewers from one setting to another. From Elle Wood’s sorority house to Harvard Square, the set was flawless at all times of the show.

Despite a weak orchestra, the “Legally Blonde” cast was exciting and funny. Sarah Brodsky ’15, who is also the president of HTG, is the perfect Elle. Her acting range, which covered being ditsy as well as aceing Harvard Law School, made her the ideal casting decision. She is everything Elle is in the Broadway and Hollywood adaptations of “Legally Blonde.” I may even say that Brodsky is good enough to compete with Reese Witherspoon and Laura Bell Bundy, who played the original Elle on screen and on stage, respectively. I could not have imagined a better Elle to perform in the Brandeis production. Her performance was nothing but extraordinary.

Joining Brodsky was an equally gifted cast of women: Elle’s Greek Chorus, which consisted of Chlöe Newlon ’17, Torey Carter ’15, Rebecca French ’16 and Yael Matlow ’18 (she did spectacularly in “What You Want”), were all extremely good singers and dancers. Small groups in Legally Blonde, such as the Greek Chorus and Elle’s Harvard peers, performed with exceptional synchronization and skill.

However, larger groups of performers, such as the entire Delta Nu sorority, were slightly messier than expected for such a Brandeis show. At times, I felt like I was watching a 24-Hour Musical. This may be due to the production open-cast nature. Fortunately, such moments were few and short, so they did not really obstruct the overall performance. Choreography was mediocre at best, but perhaps this was because of weak dancers who very obviously made mistakes.DSCN0179

Another star of the show was Scarlett Huck ’18 (Paulette), whose powerful vocals, impeccable Bostonian accent and perfect bend-and-snap easily made her one of the best performers of the night. She was able to perfectly maintain her accent throughout all of her songs. My favorite performance by Huck was “Ireland.” It was wonderfully charming and flawless. Her on-stage chemistry with Brodsky shined, establishing the two as a power duo.

Nathan Schneider ’18 and Kaelan Lynch ’17, who played Elle’s two love interests, Emmett Forrest and Warner Huntington III, were also very good actors and vocalists. They further solidified the production’s status as one of the best musicals performed at Brandeis. Many Brandeis shows often feature students who are good at acting but not strong vocally, or vice versa, but “Legally Blonde” definitely set itself apart from this category. Ben Steinberg ’18 also did very well as Professor Callahan. Steinberg managed to carry himself on the stage with the air of an esteemed professor.

The audience went wild and cheered extra loudly for Huck’s performance of “Ireland” and “Bend and Snap,” the latter being a signature moment from the film version. Personally, I had a good time watching the entire cast emphasize the image of a strong and independant woman who can survive being without an egotistical ex-boyfriend. Elle represents, according to Thvedt’s director’s note, “the modern woman and all she must endure,” including heartbreak, law school, new love, sisterhood and work, “and these are all things to be celebrated and praised because far too often, they are not.” While “Legally Blonde” has often been labeled as a story of feminism, Thvedt cautions that the story’s journey from book to stage has not been free of discrimination. “Legally Blonde is no feminist fairy tale … The musical … [turns] Elle into a typical ‘damsel in distress,’” she wrote. “I urge the audience to celebrate ‘Legally Blonde’ and Elle, but also be critical of the ways her story is told and to be critical of how sexism, DSCN0186racism, classism and standards of beauty are represented in each different rendition of ‘Legally Blonde.’”

The Brandeis adaptation of “Legally Blonde” has further changed Elle and her story to what I think portrays Elle and the “modern woman” fairly and realistically. Despite orchestral and dance mishaps, the show’s cast shines strongly enough to overshadow technical mistakes.

“Legally Blonde” will continue to be shown at the Shapiro Campus Center throughout this weekend. Tickets are $3 at the SCC Ticket Booth.

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