Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic
Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

When live-theatre venues decide to present musicals to their audiences, the experience is greatly enhanced if the book musical selected has a strong storyline as its foundation.  If the story is weak, and especially, if it’s based on a movie, then double whammies are bound to occur.  Translation:  the show will appear to be overproduced and unbalanced or lapse back into the original intention of its creators – a movie not a stage production.  Some movies need to remain just movies.

The Palm Canyon Theatre, the flagship theatre of Palm Springs, has a wonderful track record of presenting many memorable stage musicals over the years.  Mostly those productions began their theatrical lives as strictly live theatre presentations (with a few exceptions).  “The Man of La Mancha”; “West Side Story”; “A Chorus Line”;  “My Fair Lady”; “”Jeykll & Hyde”, are but a few that come quickly to mind.

19117_10151270349908558_71944499_nWith the current production “Legally Blonde The Musical”, the show is weak on story and heavy on singing and dancing.  Everyone likes singing and dancing, but not to the detriment of the “book/story” otherwise it becomes merely a dance/singing recital.  As it is, the movie is also a weak story, targeted to appeal to teenagers, but Reese Witherspoon made it more than it deserved to be.

Up front, let’s just say that the cast of the Palm Canyon Theatre production is dedicated, committed, and full of on-stage energy.  With twenty-nine performers on stage, suffice it to say, the “traffic management” issue can be a nightmare for director David McLaughlin, and for stage manager Benjamin Anglin.  Both men pass that test with flying colors.

The stage musical story by Heather Hach, such as it is, is simplistic – and still targeted to young adults – and tells the story of Elle Woods (Kelly McLean), a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner (Kelly Peak).  Elle discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham (Allegra Angelo) in a murder trial (real legal and procedural types…no rolling of the eyes are allowed during the performance).

It’s not possible, in a cast of twenty-nine to list everyone.  However, certain performers stand out:  Julie Rosser, in fine voice, as Paulette, Allegra Angelo as Brooke Wyndham, Morgana Corelli as Elle’s mom, Andrea Bellato as Serena, Shafik Wahhab as Emmett, and Kelly McLean as Elle Woods.  Cast member Bruiser Woods is a delight, but you have to attend the show to find out the real name of this outstanding performer.

The production choreographed by Anthony Nannini is energetic and visually appealing, and wisely stays within the comfort and capability zone of his dancers.  Costume designer Se Layne scores again in having the stage awash in color and dazzling designs.  J.W. Layne’s Scenic Design delivers the space and proper lighting required for the large cast to do their thing.

“Legally Blonde The Musical” performs Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through February 10th.  For reservations and ticket information call the box office at 760-323-5123.