What is beyond brilliant? What exceeds excellent? I find myself running out of words to describe the productions of the El Dorado Musical Theatre. After having seen the past 10 EDMT shows, I had been looking forward to Legally Blonde, and with all the anticipation, it exceeded my expectations. What makes these productions outstanding time after time is the vision of the creative team, led by Debbie Wilson. It’s a vision that, on the relatively blank canvas of the music and dialog of a pre-packaged show, sees opportunities for creativity in choreography, blocking, sets and set pieces, costumes, props and all the tools of stagecraft – and produces something that is unique, engaging and completely entertaining – every time. One look at the list of the production staff, and you can see that there are dozens of people giving their best to this effort – not to mention the small army of parents and other volunteers. Besides the wonderful cast on stage, there are scores of people who can take pride in this extraordinary production.
This was my first time to see Legally Blonde – in fact, I hadn’t even seen the movie. So the show itself was a delight. I can’t say the tunes were memorable, but with the imaginative staging and professional -quality delivery, I can look back on almost every song (as I review the program) and recall it vividly – with a smile. The lyrics themselves and the dialog were wonderfully witty.
But it is the way EDMT mounts a show like this that makes all the difference. The sets were practically works of art, and there were so many of them, creating realistic backdrops for the action, scene after scene. There were also pleasant surprises throughout: some in the original script (like the cute dogs), and some probably not (the impressive reveal of the girls in the sorority house windows, a recurring golf cart, a marching band, onstage costume changes – no, let’s keep the rest of them surprises). And the pace of the action, especially before intermission, was intense. In fact, it seemed like the choreography was continuous. You couldn’t risk looking away, even during a solo, because something was always happening. And as I’ve said before, the energy generated by those young actors and dancers could light a city.
I can’t say enough about the individual actors. Heather Clark was just amazing as Elle Woods, but I don’t want to enumerate the rest of the cast. To me, they all have star power, and looking down the cast list, and remembering the first dozen or so of the key roles, I can picture each of the actors. And what I remember is strong singing, transparent acting, and exciting dance moves from each of them. Every one drew a strong character that brought the audience into the action. Yes, all these young people have talent, and for it, they deserve a lot of credit. But it’s also true that they’ve been thoroughly trained – some for the majority of their young lives – to professional standards. And that’s the bottom line for this and every EDMT production: Legally Blonde is a professional effort in every detail.