'Legally Blonde: The Musical' sings, dances out CTC season - July 12-28

photo The Chattanooga Theatre Centre's production of "Legally Blonde" stars Brittni Rhodes as Elle Woods.

IF YOU GOWhat: "Legally Blonde: The Musical"When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 12-13, July 19-20, July 26-27; 7 p.m. July 18 and July 25; 2:30 p.m. July 21 and July 28Where: MainStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.Admission: $30 opening night, $10-$25 all other showsPhone: 423-267-8534Website: www.TheatreCentre.comSPECIAL EVENTSFriday, July 12: Opening night reception begins at 7 p.m. before curtain at 8Thursday, July 18: Real-time captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons; curtain at 7 p.m.Friday, July 19: Talk-back with director and cast after the production; curtain at 8 p.m.Friday, July 26: Girls Night Out, with complimentary drinks and snacks at 7 p.m. before curtain at 8

A dancing, singing lawyer in pink (carrying a purse dog) is the star of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's season-ending, pull-out-the-stops musical.

"Legally Blonde, The Musical," the singing, dancing version of the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, opens on the theater's MainStage on Friday, July 12, and continues through July 28.

"She doesn't leave the stage much at all," director and set designer Steve Ray says of Brittni Rhodes, who portrays Elle, the airy sorority girl who enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend but finds a new life for herself. "She carries the show, and you have to have somebody who can carry the show."

The plot of the musical, he says, is basically the same plot as in the movie, though a few characters and locations are combined. The play still has 24 locations.

Ray describes the production as a "pop rock musical" and a "hyper musical," with one production number leading straight into the next.

"It's [for] today's audience," he says. "It's all spectacle and music and dance."

Rhodes, a recent Center for Creative Arts graduate who will attend college in the fall, is involved in all but a couple of the numbers.

"She's setting the pace for everyone else," says Ray. "She was the first one off book to know her lines and her dances. She knew all the music [coming in] and was well-trained in how to rehearse the music."

"Legally Blonde, The Musical" has not only music, dancing and spectacular costumes but also two dogs. Bruiser is Elle's Chihuahua, and there's a bulldog belonging to Paulette, the divorced manicurist who befriends Elle (and steals the scene).

Ray says coming into the multi-Tony Award-nominated production, he was familiar with the movie and knew of the musical.

"When I first listened to the music and read through the script," he says, "I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was done. The music is really good. Musicals based on movies can be disappointing, but this has really, really great music. It's very danceable. People will not be disappointed.

"If you liked the movie, you will really like this. There's dancing, singing, animal acts. You can tell the people who put this together really like musicals."

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.