Filed by Ben Doak
Omigod you guys! Legally Blonde made it to Broadway! Even with all the embellishments inherent in a big stage adaptation, "Legally Blonde: The Musical" offers more substance than a light, low-fat caramel latte. In other words, more than you would possibly expect.
The musical is a sugar rush, on par with a Thursday night My Tie party, and while the story is prosaic, the success in the songs' reflection the energy of the characters is extraordinary.
The jittery opening number "Omigod you guys" sets the tone that the rest of the soundtrack will follow: syrupy sweetness that's vaguely endearing. With lines like, "No one should left alone to dress and to accessorize. Omigod you guys," the score establishes a pattern of lyrics so absurd they reduce each character to a single stereotype. No one develops beyond a surface-level understanding, but that's what makes it enjoyable -- hearing the interplay of ridiculous human traits.
Anyone looking for a production geared for anything but tween girls will be disappointed. If you have to ask "Why bother with the musical," the soundtrack is probably not for you.
But still the soundtrack is not without its merits. The show brought acclaimed Broadway composers Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin. O'Keefe may seem a strange choice given his breakthrough musical was Bat Boy, a strange, coming-of-age story of a half-human, half-bat. But O'Keefe and Benjamin combined to write sweet, infectious tunes that were perfect for a musical based entirely on the sorority lifestyle.
If there's any fault, it's in the musical's book, most notably on "Ireland" and "Whipped Into Shape."
In "Ireland," beautician Paulette inspires main character Elle to return to her romantic pursuit through a Celtic moods CD. For a musical affirming conventional beauty, Paulette's quirky inspiration comes across as a bit too strange.
Meanwhile, "Whipped Into Shape" is a workout tape turned musical number and, consequently, is perhaps the most obnoxious song on the disc.
But apart from these missteps, the musical remains strong throughout.
What's most surprising is the range of musical styles. Sure, it's a necessity for a soundtrack nearly drowning in sugary sweetness, but when the songs move from conventional Bubblegum Pop to Rhythm and Blues to Rap, even Celtic moods, they do so almost organically.
Altogether, the songs recall everything from West Side Story to Sean Paul. And as difficult as it is to keep up with the overcaffeinated story, the score succeeds brilliantly.
E-mail Ben Doak at firstname.lastname@example.org