Review: ‘Legally Blonde’ at Thomas S. Wootton High School

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Looking for and evening non-stop fun? Well look no further than the Wootton High School’s performance of Legally Blonde: The Musical. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and movie adaptation of 2001, with its book by Heather Hach and music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, Legally Blonde the Musical leaves its cinematic counterpart in the dust. This show takes the story from an absurd and somewhat trite comedy, to a heartfelt and wholly entertaining show. I give praise to Director Jessica Speck and her supremely skilled cast and crew, for bringing this show to life.

Elle (Jacqueline Kempa, center) poses with the company at the end of “What You Want”, the song and presentation that gets her into Harvard Law School. Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.
Elle (Jacqueline Kempa, center) poses with the company at the end of “What You Want,” the song and presentation that gets her into Harvard Law School. Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.

The show opens in the house of the Delta Nus, led by Margot (Melanie McLean), Serena (Julia Fanzeres), and Pilar (Rachel Lipson), all singing “Omigod You Guys.” No that is not a typo. But do not let the title mislead you, it is the first of many songs that will have you smiling from ear to ear as these ladies sing their hearts out. Fanzeres was a standout, this young woman has quite the voice on her with a lot of energy to boot.

By the end of our song we are met with our leading lady, Elle (Jaqueline Kempa). Kempa is stunning in the role. Elle can easily be made a caricature, but Kempa kept her earnest. Her beautiful soprano voice shined throughout, but it was especially beautiful in the ballad and title song “Legally Blonde.” She is joined in this song by her eventual love interest, Emmett, played with a reserved charm by talented William Memmott.

Before she meets Emmett, our heroine is love sick for a boyfriend, Warner (Myles Frost), who she eventually follows to Harvard law. Frost is demure at first, but when he starts singing “Serious,” he will give you goose bumps as he handles the music with ease. He is joined by a new love interest of his own, Vivienne (Denise Nalibotsky).

On her way to Harvard, Elle has some obstacles in her way. Not the least of which is the admissions team at Harvard; Winthrop (Zack Cassidy), Lowel (Jay Conner) and Pforzheimer (Nikolaus Meyer). All three were fun and very convincing, but it was Cassidy with his over-the-top Winthrop that made for some laugh-out-loud moments with all of his cantankery. Yes, that is a new word. I stand by it.

Anyway, once Elle finally reaches Harvard, she encounters more obstacles not the least of which is the unreasoning Professor Callahan (Brett Cassidy). Cassidy is a mature young actor who shined in this role. His rendition of “Blood in the Water” was effortlessly wicked.

The tide does turn for Elle who is lucky to encounter some new friends including; Paulette (Emily Ray) and the accused killer and Delta Nu alumnus Brooke (Gabrielle Bianchi). Ray as Paulette adds some of the fun moments of the show. Not to be outdone is Krystian Ochman as Kyle. Ochman has a natural knack for comedic timing, and he had the audience in the palm of his hand at his first entrance.

Other noteworthy characters were Enid, played by Maria Samper and Lily Mayne who played the unassuming Judge, a judge with a belt that you wouldn’t believe! I could go on and on with the talent in this cast, BECAUSE from top to bottom they were truly stellar.

Enid (red flannel shirt, Maria Samper), loans her glasses to Elle (Jacqueline Kempa) so she can demonstrate how her bunny costume is reminiscent of Gloria Steinem’s feminist manifesto to Warner (Myles Frost) and Vivienne (Denise Nalibotsky). Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.
Enid (red flannel shirt, Maria Samper), loans her glasses to Elle (Jacqueline Kempa) so she can demonstrate how her bunny costume is reminiscent of Gloria Steinem’s feminist manifesto to Warner (Myles Frost) and Vivienne (Denise Nalibotsky). Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.

The outsized orchestra pit also excelled. Student Conductor, Enya Chen and , Conductor and instrumental music teacher Carolyn Herman lead the crew of thirty-six student musicians through two full hours of toe-tapping high-energy songs. Kudos to Keith Schwartz, for working with the singers and to Carolyn Herman for her work with the instrumentalists. They should be very proud of this gifted young group of musicians and singers.

Finally, we have Stage Manager Daria Kerschenbaum, who directed this stage crew of twenty, not to mention sound and light engineers as well as a cast of sixty-nine, including two four legged stars the adorable Parker Cassidy (Rufus) and the demure Paco Conlon (Bruiser). WOW! Well done! The show ran smoothly with hardly a hiccup.

Enid (Maria Samper) is instructed by Professor Callahan (Brett Cassidy) as to how new lawyers need to look for the “Blood in the Water.” Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.
Enid (Maria Samper) is instructed by Professor Callahan (Brett Cassidy) as to how new lawyers need to look for the “Blood in the Water.” Photo by Rebecca Cornelius.

Director Speck and her team have created an excellent time in the theater. Legally Blonde the Musical is not what you think it is, well maybe a little of what you think it is. There is a sophistication in its writing that will entertain patrons of all ages. So, grab your tickets before they are all gone, because only two performances remain.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with one-15 minute intermission.

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Legally Blonde: The Musical plays at Thomas S. Wootton High School – 2100 Wootton Parkway, in Rockville, MD. Remaining performances are Friday, April 15th and Saturday, April 16th at 7:00 PM. Call (301) 279-8589 to purchase tickets, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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