Legally Blonde’ turns bullying on its ear and is more than expected
Whether you’re a spouse, a date, a parent or a child, we’ve all been dragged to movies we didn’t want to see. We assume it will be horrible, and have incredibly low expectations. “Legally Blonde” was that film for me. However, 10 minutes in I was laughing out loud. Although it may appear as fluff on the surface, by film’s end there is an incredible amount of substance in this story. If you’ve ever spent a chapter of your life in Southern California, it is perhaps easy to mock the over-privileged, but a little open mindedness will reveal a much more complex individual with a master’s degree in tow, whose fashion-plate exterior is merely a socially dictated faade. Many Maui millionaires wear $5 slippers and a pair of well-worn board shorts. Is pretentiousness regional? “Legally Blonde” turns bullying on its ear and surprisingly presents a commentary on rushing to judgment.
Perhaps the tale of Elle Woods is so rich because its first incarnation was a book, written by Stanford Law School student Amanda Brown. Brown is the daughter of a lawyer and an art gallery curator, who has gone on to write several other novels. The 2001 screenplay was adapted by Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz. The two also collaborated on the screenplay, “10 Things I Hate About You.” In 2007, Nell Benjamin adapted the story, penning the book and lyrics for the musical version. Benjamin is currently collaborating with Tina Fey on a musical version of “Mean Girls.” For six years, a Broadway tour crisscrossed the country. In fact, the MTV co-sponsored tour was an even larger success on the road than on Broadway. Its touring incarnations have been filling two- and-three-thousand seat performance halls all over North America, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America. In 2013, the amateur rights became available and Maui OnStage will be presenting the Maui premier.
Making his directorial debut with “Legally Blonde: the Musical,” is Justin House. Regular theater goers will recognize House from his acting performances in “CATS,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and “the Worthmores.” House has assembled a local, all-star cast featuring many a leading role, musical theater veteran in ensemble parts. The cast of 37 includes Dylan Bode (“Les Miserables”), Laura Cole (“the Producers”), Dale Button (“Man of La Mancha”), Patty Silva (“Chicago”), Casey Murphy Hughes as Elle Woods, Charles Cook, Brett Wulfson and Ari Glauser (“RENT”), Felicia Chernicki (“SHOUT!”), Christina Sutrov (“Spelling Bee”), Ellen Peterson (“Chicago”), Jason Wulf (“La Cage aux Folles”) and many, many more (plus two canines). This version of “Legally Blonde” is a pop/rock, hip-hop musical, but its message remains.
At the heart of this story is Woods, who through academic excellence achieves the opportunity to participate in the murder trial of fitness guru, Brooke Wyndham (Peterson). After winning the respect of her peers, professors and the court, Woods’ priorities shift from trying to “steal back” her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Bode). She’s more than just a future “Senator’s wife.” Elle has dreams and goals, finding new love and equal partnership in unlikely places. There have been many modern Cinderella tales in American entertainment. Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina” rose from daughter of the butler to fiance to the boss. Sandy from “Grease” changes herself to get a man, but Elle finds herself and gets a law degree.
ALSO THIS WEEK
* ONO! returns with Maui Improv in performance featuring Mike Burton, Tom McNamara and the Maui Improv students. This growing local troupe will perform in four 20-minute, long-form improvised comedy scenes. Performance is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Iao Theater. The free ONO! performances are every second Monday of the month.
* Lahaina’s Theatre Theatre Maui returns in July with “Bugsy Malone, Jr.,” directed by Kristi Scott. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 20 at Lahaina Intermediate School. For more information call TTM Executive Director, Angie Thompson at 661-1168.
* Opera Maui announces its inaugural fundraiser at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Proceeds will benefit a future opera production company here on Maui. Performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 18 in McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC. General admission tickets are $39. To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
* Maui OnStage and director Dale Button announce open auditions for Fredrick Knott’s thriller, “Wait Until Dark.” Auditions will be starting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 21 with callbacks to be held on Wednesday, July 23. Actors will need to prepare a two-to-three-minute dramatic monologue, and bring a headshot, resume and conflict calendar to the audition. To reserve an audition appointment, call 244-8680, Ext 23. “Wait Until Dark” has roles for one female (plays blind, age 25 to 40), several males (ages 25 to 60) and one youthful girl (plays 10 to 14 years old). Rehearsals will begin in late July and performances are Sept. 26 through Oct. 5. For more information and a complete character list, visit mauionstage.com
* “Shower of Stars,” Hawaii’s oldest ongoing talent show returns to the Historic Iao Theater on Aug. 9. The competition is open to all talents and separated into two categories, 17 and younger and 18 and older. A preliminary competition will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26 at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. Deadline for entries is Thursday, July 24. To register to compete for up to $2,000 in cash prizes, call 214-7836.