Our Gang’s ‘Legally Blonde’ a Bombshell of a ShowThis Blonde’s Not Dumb But She Sure Is Fun
The Our Gang Players are on a roll. In September, they received the Community Theater of the Year award from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters. And the next two weekends, Our Gang will be doing something very few community theater troupes dare to do – introducing the public of Southern Ocean County to a new musical.
“Legally Blonde,” based on the 2001 movie of the same name, is a “pop musical,” with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hach. It opened on Broadway in 2007, drew large and enthusiastic crowds, and earned seven Tony Award nominations. It failed to win any, but when it opened in London, the British critics were more impressed, and it won the Laurence Olivier Award – the English equivalent of a Tony – for Best New Musical.
It is a “new” musical in more ways than one, because, after all, how many Broadway musicals are taped for broadcast on MTV? In other words, it is a show that may bring in a younger audience than Our Gang is accustomed to. At a recent rehearsal, it was obvious it is already a show that has the young adult performers of Our Gang thoroughly excited and champing at the bit for opening night.
The strikingly blond president of the Delta Nu sorority, Elle Woods (Alison Gleason), is expecting Warren Huntington III (Eric Weinhardt) to propose to her at dinner. Instead he breaks her heart, saying he needs a more serious girl.
Elle is not one to give up. If Warren wants serious, he’ll get serious. She decides to apply for Harvard Law and incredibly, backed by a squad of cheerleaders, talks her way in.
But she’s still got a long row to hoe. Her snobby classmates disapprove of her, especially Vivienne (Elizabeth Weidenhof), Warren’s new girlfriend. Professor Callahan (Scott Bruinooge) is a monster. The only person at Harvard Law who seems to be in her corner is teaching assistant Emmett Forest (Ryan Mulholland).
She decides she’ll be taken seriously as a brunette and heads off to a beauty parlor. But before she can be transformed, Vivienne gives her an unexpected invitation to a party and even provides her with a costume. The dye job is forgotten and Elle shows up at the party, dressed as a Playboy bunny, only to find Warren attending. So much for the serious look.
Elle finally realizes she appears too desperate to Warren. The hell with him, she thinks, and cracks the books and kicks Warren’s butt in a classroom debate. Of course, she is stunned when Warren proposes to Vivienne and Viv accepts (with a “take that” kiss thrown in). But her sadness is overcome when she learns she has won a coveted internship with Callahan along with Warren, Vivienne and another student, Enid Hoopes (Amanda Dunyak).
Act II gets even crazier, as the team defends Brooke Wyndham (Jannah Tabbacchino), a fitness queen accused of murdering her husband. Callahan puts a move on Elle, she slaps him, and she is dumped from the team. But she shows up in court anyway and … we just can’t give anything else away.
Sounds like a light, fun show, right? It is. That doesn’t mean, however, that Our Gang’s production of “Legally Blonde” won’t have a serious aspect. Our Gang is donating a dollar for every ticket sold (up to $2,000) to support local breast cancer awareness efforts. The troupe also launched a contest for its playbill cover, looking for a design that would promote breast cancer awareness as well as relate to the show. The winner, Ryan Alger, a 12-year-old local girl, figured it all out:
“I spent most of my life supporting breast cancer awareness,” she told Our Gang. “I have walked for the cause, I have helped my mom’s friend feel good when she went through chemotherapy by making her a wig out of newspaper curls, and now I am excited to send you my submission for the playbill for ‘Legally Blonde the Musical.’ I tried to make it look as much like Elle’s version of HAAAAVAAAD as if she was to design the school emblem herself.”
Directed by Jessica O’Brien, “Legally Blonde” will be performed in Manahawkin’s OceanFirst Theatre, located at 1000 McKinley Ave., at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14. Tickets are only $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $8 for kids 12 years of age and younger. They may be purchased at the door, by phone at 609-597-0553, or online at ourgang.org. On Saturday, Oct. 13, Our Gang members will host a special “Pink Carpet” event before that evening’s show. Special tickets for that are $25 and include a ticket to the evening performance, tempting eats and a chance to meet and greet Our Gang performers. The Pink Carpet tickets must be purchased in advance so the troupe can get a head count – the phone number to reserve, remember, is 609-597-0553.
You don’t have to be blond to attend! But if you have a wig ...
— Rick Mellerup