Author: Robert McKinney, Bristol Herald Courier, www.tricities.com
The Barter Theatre’s big summer musical, “Legally Blonde,” is bright, loud, funny and brimming with eye-candy for all genders, sure to be a hit and quite deservedly so. But, beneath the foolishness, caricatures, pink accessories and even a purse-riding Chiweenie dog, there is a serious lesson to be learned about how we as a society, despite all our lip service to the contrary, still — actually, more than ever — judge others by appearances and pre-conceived notions of what people and things should be like.
Perhaps even more of a lesson is that we often — nearly always in fact — use those same surface appearances and pre-conceived notions when we judge ourselves. This, in my opinion, is one of the great mental diseases plaguing most of us, especially us Appalachian folks. How many of us as young people have told ourselves we weren’t intellectually capable of getting through medical school simply because we were “hillbillies” or that our musical capacities were limited to flailing banjos or slapping the dog house bass. Not that dog house bass slapping can’t be a world of fun, but ditto for performing a complicated Mozart sonata.Enough pontificating already! Back to “Legally Blonde.”
Elle Woods is perfectly happy being a California “valley girl,” a member of UCLA’s Delta Nu sorority and a stereotypically air-headed natural blonde with a taste for expensive pink clothes and matching accessories until her snooty Harvard Law School bound boyfriend breaks off their engagement because, as he tells her, he needs a wife who is more “serious” than he thinks Elle to be.
Poor Elle, who is just as caught up in judgment by appearances as said snooty ex-boyfriend, at first thinks she can change things by altering her outward appearance: dying her hair red, ditching the pink clothes and so forth, but then she realizes that beneath her admittedly rather nice long blonde tresses there is plenty of the gray stuff. She studies for the Harvard Law School entrance exam, gets accepted, demonstrates her ability in class and, using her skills and intuition, saves an innocent info-mercial fitness instructor from being wrongly convicted of murder — all without dying her hair or shelving her penchant for pink.
Naturally, she has to fight all the way against the “ol’ boyz establishment” and ward off the advances of a scumbag law professor.
Of course, since our gal Elle has now proven her abilities the old boyfriend wants her back but, says Elle “nunc dimittis!” which is lawyer talk that basically translates to “Get outta my face before I rip it off and hand it to you!”
Ellie Mooney, a Barter newcomer, has the role of Elle and does an excellent job. Lacretta Nicole is Paulette Bonafonté and has the show-stopper number. The rest of the cast — and it’s a biggie — includes most of our Barter favorites. The music is honchoed by Steve Sensenig. Amanda Aldridge and Ashley Campos did the choreography and all that marvelous Barter behind-the-scenes stuff such as lighting, sound, set construction and stage management is conjured up by the usual suspects.
Aside from a splattering of gay jokes that will go right over most people’s heads, this show is suitable for the entire family.