In short, yes.
Legally Blonde, the movie, premiered in 2001 with Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a California sorority girl who earns a spot at Harvard in order to win back her ex. Fast forward to 2019 and it’s still one of the most played movies in my DVD rotation (yeah, I still use those). The sleeper hit spawned a sequel in 2003, a spin-off in 2009, and an upcoming third installment (also starring Witherspoon) in 2020. Most importantly, though, is what I’m about to get into here. Legally Blonde: The Musical. The musical version debuted on Broadway in 2007 and received seven Tony nominations.
Legally Blonde: The Musical is at Walnut Street Theatre now until July 21st, closing out the theatre’s 210th season! The opening night performance was the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in a long time. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm from an audience before. Maybe it was all for actress Kathryn Brunner, as Elle Woods, who performed in Walnut Street productions as a child (she’s also a Temple grad). Or maybe it was simply because Legally Blonde is such a loved movie that the audience couldn’t contain their excitement as it was brought to life on stage. The movie translates to the stage so well, which isn’t always an easy task.
I also saw this musical three years ago and the songs have never left my head. “Whipped Into Shape”, “Omigod You Guys”, “Gay or European”…I had the biggest smile on my face as I watched the performances on stage again. Director/choreographer Richard Stafford (Walnut Street Theatre credits include Saturday Night Fever, Cats, Memphis and so many others) created so many applause-inducing scenes! The jump ropes with “Whipped Into Shape”- wow!
Walnut Street’s Legally Blonde: The Musical features such a star-studded cast; many of the actors have Broadway or national tour credits. RowHome Magazine favorite Rebecca Robbins– as salon owner and bend-and-snap expert Paulette- returned for her 18th show at Walnut Street. Paul Schoeffler (Professor Callahan) has Broadway credits including Rock of Ages and Sunset Boulevard. Elle’s ex, Warner Huntington III, is played by Sean Thompson who originated the role of Raoul on the national tour of Love Never Dies. Elliott Styles was recently seen at the theatre as the Doctor in this season’s Roald Dahl’s Matilda and he was the perfect Emmett Forrest to Brunner’s Elle. Lina Lee (Pilar) was seen in Miss Saigon on Broadway. The list could go on…his was such an incredible cast. Everyone clearly gave it their all.
The stand-outs in this show of course were dogs! Ensemble cast member Rochelle Scudder is the owner of Frankie (who played Bruiser) and Myrtle (who played Rufus). Frankie was also seen last season in Walnut’s Annie and he holds the record for doing more performances of Legally Blonde: The Musical than any other human or canine! Scudder, who works for William Berloni Theatrical Animals, also recently handled a goose and a bunny for The Ferryman on Broadway!
Not only is Legally Blonde: The Musical fun and hilarious, the show really shines in positive messages. Appearance means nothing, determination means everything. No one took Elle seriously at first, but she proved her worth, boldly stood out and stood tall! Quitting may have seemed like an easy way out at some points, but ultimately she didn’t let anyone knock her down.
Go cheer on Elle Woods and the cast of Legally Blonde: The Musical this holiday weekend. Or anytime before July 21st. You do not want to miss this one.
Feature photo: Rochelle Scudder, Audrey Simmons, Lina Lee, Caroline Chisholm, Kathryn Brunner, Adena Ershow, Kristyn Pope, Katy Kauffman