Finding a silver lining can sometimes be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. In the case of touring Broadway musical “Legally Blonde,” currently playing at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, the vein of silver comes in the form of actress Carrie St. Louis who plays the lead, Elle Woods. A tremendous onstage talent with a powerful vocal range, St. Louis was joy to watch on opening night (July 7th). However, everything else about the production was plagued by flubs with dialogue, occasionally disjointed choreography, and an overall storyline that frequently broke away from its original core anthem of female empowerment.
Loosely based upon the 2001 novel of the same name by American author Amanda Brown, “Legally Blonde” was adapted for the silver screen that same year starring Reese Witherspoon, who reprised the role in 2003’s “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.” It was later adapted again in 2007 as a Broadway musical and received seven Tony nominations, although it did not win any.
Elle Woods (St. Louis) is a 4.0 GPA student at UCLA and a member of the Delta Nu sorority. She is giddy at the prospect of being proposed to by her longtime boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Luke Hamilton). To her great disappointment, Warner dumps her and announces he is heading to Harvard Law School. Determined in an obsessed, borderline restraining order type of way, Elle follows Warner by managing to get into Harvard Law as well. From there, Elle must traverse the challenges of being a fish-out-of-water and overcoming the stigma of being a stereotypical California blonde.
The whole purpose of “Legally Blonde” was to promote a sense of empowerment. To show that women can do anything they set their mind too and shatter any glass ceilings in their way. The musical, though, often diverges from this inspirational legacy crafted by Brown. One such example, punctuated by a song called “Snap and Bend” does the opposite by presenting women as sexual objects who should use their sexuality to get what they want rather than their brains. Overall, the theme of female empowerment, which is so powerful in the film version, is derailed in the musical production by so many distractions that it becomes lost in the forest.
“Legally Blonde” will run through July 13 at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. For ticket information, click HERE