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Review: Legally Blonde, the Musical picks up speed — and fun — as it goes on

Engaging RDC Theatre Studies production opened Thursday at Arts Centre

Like its heroine Elle Woods, Legally Blonde, The Musical, is a little slow on the uptake but delivers in spades by the end.

Although it took a while for this stage show, which opened Thursday at the Red Deer College Art Centre, to pick up steam — the young cast pulled off a heck of an engaging second act.

There were fantastic song and dance numbers — most notably a hilarious rendition of Gay or European, in which everyone at a murder trial is guessing whether Nikos-the-sexually-ambiguous-pool-boy (Theo Grandjambe) could have been the female suspect’s lover.

There was also Bend and Snap, in which Elle, a California girl who ends up at Harvard Law School, teaches her hairdresser friend Paulette some guaranteed sexy moves, as invented by the UCLA cheering squad.

While lead actor Maggie Chisholm could have upped her perkiness level, she was generally in fine form as Elle, who eventually learns to stay true to herself in this frothy story, based on the Reese Witherspoon film.

Another riotously funny scene involved Paulette (wonderfully played as a wistful sad-sack by Jelena Minshall) falling for a UPS delivery man. Stuart Olds could not have strutted his stuff any better as Kyle, the sexy guy in uniform (khaki walking shorts).

By the second half of this show, written by Heather Hach, Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, all of the cast members were noticeably having more fun with their roles, and the glee was infectious.

More of this was needed in the first act, which started stiffly with the pit orchestra inadvertently drowning out most of the lyrics to the songs Omigod You Guys, in which Delta Nu sorority sisters eagerly anticipated Elle’s engagement to her boyfriend Warner (Tanner Chubb).

Anyone familiar with the film will know that Elle’s social-climbing boyfriend dumps her as he sets a new course to become a law student at Harvard. Some nice chemistry gradually develops between Elle and her new love interest Emmett (Thomas Zima), and appropriate tension is caused by their tough law professor Callahan (Michael Bentley) and fellow students Vivienne (Sara Fowlow) and Enid (Veronika Fodor).

Taylor Osiowy is also terrific as murder suspect and fitness queen Brooke, who leads the dance number Whipped Into Shape.

All in all, the musical directed by Tom Bradford, lives up to its potential — just as Elle does. And it’s likely to only get better.

Kudos to choreographer Jill Kuzina, the nine-musician pit orchestra, and designer Carrie Hamilton for creating a rotating set that’s gaudily reminiscent of Rodeo Drive.

The musical continues to Feb. 18.