Omigod, omigod you guys: ‘Legally Blonde’ is modern, fun, empowering

By Katherine Savage

Delta Nu sorority president and fashion major Elle Woods will go lengths to get what she wants, even if it means a flashy musical number or an acceptance to Harvard Law School.

“Legally Blonde the musical” is about sorority girl Elle Woods and her path from UCLA to Harvard to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner. Upon getting accepted to Harvard, Elle finds out Warner has already found a new girlfriend, Vivian. Elle goes through the challenges of Harvard and working on a murder trial, while staying true to herself and making friends along the way.

The musical, based off the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon, ran from Sept. 5 through Oct. 21 at the Paramount Theater, 23 E. Galena Boulevard, Aurora, IL.

It opens with a silly song in which Elle, played by Casey Shuler, thinks her boyfriend Warner, played by Tyler Lain, is going to propose. The song started off lacking energy and spunk, but gained attention when a giant phone hung from the ceiling displaying a group text with the sorority talking about the proposal. There was everything from heart emojis, bitmojis to popular gifs. The use of technology made it more exciting and relatable.  

Bruiser, Elle’s canine companion, goes with her everywhere and stole the show in the opening number with his on-command barks and tricks.

The costumes were, in typical Elle Woods fashion, various shades of pink. Since the film was set in the 2000s, the outfits are a little dated. However, the musical did an excellent job paralleling the 2000s style while still making it modern. 

One of the most famous scenes from the movie is about the bend and snap, a tacticused to attract men. “Bend and Snap” was just as funny in the musical as it was in the movie because of the exaggerated way random men on the street run up when they see the move done. The song was catchy and it made you want to get up and dance with the cast.

In the song, “There! Right There!” the team of lawyers is trying to decide if someone is “gay or European.” Even for a musical, this song seemed too outrageous and over the top. This is a main scene in the filmbut it fell flat in the musical.  

The director’s note was wonderfully written by Tony Stork and described how Elle took charge of her life andexpressed his hope that she serves as a Goddess of viewers in their own dark times.

“Elle Woods is a hero of a generation, of my generation. Who knew the 2001 movie about a sorority girl turned lawyer holds up as a pre #MeToo manifesto?” Stark wrote in the director’s note.

“Legally Blonde” might not seem like an empowering story for women, as the basic premise is Elle trying to win back her boyfriend, but Stork did an excellent job changing aspects of the show to relate to current social issues, especially the Me Too movement.

Towards the end of the show, Elle finds herself in a situation where her mentor and teacher hits on her and ends up kissing her. She struggles with wanting to quit law school. In the song “Legally Blonde Remix,” Vivian, whom Elle frequently quarrels with, ends up convincing Elle to stay, showing how women have to support each other. Also in the song Elle sings, “When you’re attacked, you’ve got to respond.”

In the final song, “Find my way/ Finale,” the law professor ischarged with sexual harassment. In the original Broadway recording from 2007, this was not part of the song. The lyric was slipped in but it had a huge impact on the overall meaning of the show. It made the show not only entertaining, but empowering as well. 

The musical proves that a simple story about a sorority girl chasing her boyfriend could become a thoughtful tale for women to care and speak up for themselves.