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Theater Review: Richter Season Opener, ‘Legally Blonde’ A Fun Testament To Girl Power

Published: July 12, 2018

DANBURY — Musicals at Richter’s season opener, Legally Blonde, with book by Heather Hach, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, is a fun testament to girl power. Under the direction of Lauren Nicole Sherwood, this snappy musical with a large ensemble cast sends a powerful message with a lighthearted delivery.

Elle Woods (played by Melody Atkinson) is a Malibu blonde with a heart of gold. Her only ambition is wedded bliss with longtime love, Warner (Chris Balstriere). He, however, packs himself off to Harvard Law School with sights set on a prosperous career, which does not include the likes of the obviously shallow, pink-loving Elle.

Surprise, surprise — Elle is way more than just another pretty face.

Working her way into the same class as her beloved, she excels, if in an unconventional fashion. Encouraged by sorority sisters (Sarah Baker, Margaret Buzak, Kate Patton, Caitlin Burke, Jean-Marie Mcgrath, Sarah Brundage), who double as her Greek Chorus, and a determined beautician, Paulette (Aaron-Noel Treppeda), Elle puts her nose to the grindstone, under the tutelage of fellow underdog and good guy, Emmet (Stephen Emerick).

Countless obstacles present to Elle, yet with her support systems firmly intact, she perseveres, discovering intellectual gifts she would never have known had she not been forced into some hardship along the way.

This show is filled with catchy tunes that are well arranged by musical director Zachary Kampler and excellently delivered by the talented cast. Each and every cast member gives it their all. While too numerous to mention everyone, there are several standouts.

Matt Farina has enhanced this production with some snappy choreography as well as his appearance as a UPS delivery man with a swagger. Mr Farina plays this small role to the absolute hilt; he is hilarious.

Ms Treppeda’s Paulette falls hard for him, and the two of them jig their way into a love story. These are skilled performers with spot-on timing and musical comedy chops.

Playing Warner’s upscale girlfriend, Vivienne, Voni Allegra is precise and determined. Her vocal capacity, when unleashed at the end of the show, is a stunner.

In the lead role, Ms Atkinson gathers steam towards the end of the first act and delivers a strong performance.

Playing her knight in corduroy, Stephen Emerick’s Emmett, is delightful. His sweet charm with an undercurrent of determination is well played, and his delivery is completely sincere.

Janina Ross, playing Dana, the work out star/murder suspect, is always very good, and she is here as well. She dances, sings, and acts with ease and authenticity. She knows what she is doing and makes it look easy and fun.

There are many good performances in this large ensemble cast. As a whole, they provide a totally charming evening of theater under the stars. The entire cast is enthusiastic, energetic, and entertaining, with a message as timely and uplifting as could possibly be. A night at Richter is not to be missed, and this well turned out piece makes it all the more wonderful.

Remaining performances of Legally Blonde at Richter are scheduled for 8 pm Thursday, July 12, and Saturday, July 14. Grounds open at 7 for picnics. For more information, visit musicalsatrichter.org.

Legally Blonde at Richter -- finale

Musicals at Richter has opened its 34th season with Legally Blonde, the high energy musical based on the 2001 movie of the same name. Staged on the grounds of Richter Arts Center in Danbury, the production has two remaining performances for local theater lovers.

 

Legally Blonde at Richter -- Elle & Warner

Melody Atkinson stars as Delta Nu sorority sister and ultimate Valley Girl Elle Woods, while Chris Balestriere portrays Warner Huntington, who is about to become Elle’s ex-boyfriend, in this scene from Musical at Richter’s production of Legally Blonde.

 

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