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By Elizabeth Youngman Westphal
Special to The Village News 

'Legally Blonde The Musical' – Watch Bruiser go to Harvard Law


Last updated 8/4/2018 at 2:07pm

Daren Scott photos

From left, Elle Woods (Danielle Levas), with help from her Greek Chorus [Margot (Allyce), Pilar (Molly O'Meara), and Serena (Gina Maria Cioffi)], instructs Paulette (Marlene Montes) in the "Bend and Snap".

For a good time, no, for a really good time, join in the fun at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad before this run is sold out. "Legally Blonde The Musical" is one of this year's most entertaining theatrical experiences! And it is only a few minutes from home.

Artistic Director Kristianne Kurner has a hit on her hands! Whether at UCLA or in Cambridge, this modern-day romp is eye candy. Kurner has inspired each actor/singer/dancer and musician in the cast to fill their performance with joy. It oozes across the footlights up and over into the cheering audience.

At long last, the secret to the highly praised "bend and snap" is uncovered for all to learn. It is perfectly explained by its founder Elle Woods (Danielle Levas). With big shoes to fill (who doesn't remember Reese Witherspoon in the movie) Levas adds spark and musicality to her role as the leading lady who used to live happily with her loyal Chihuahua-companion, Bruiser, "on the island of Malibu." (As recently as last year, Bruiser aka Luna was rescued by the Pierce family and, as fate would have it, is now making her acting debut!)

Elle's trio of BFF's at Delta Nu is Margot played by Allyce, Serena played by co-dance captain Gina Maria Cioffi while Pilar is played by Miss Molly O'Meara. The multi-talented threesome happens to be inseparable. They sing, dance, and act in unison without taking a breath. You go girls!

As it happens Elle Woods' beau, the handsome, metro-sexual Warner Huntington III (Cody Ingram) fills the bill brilliantly with his smarmy behavior. He is somewhat sympathetic, pleading through rich vocals, after he is dumped and tries to worm his way back to "Poo Bear". And Vivienne (Cassie Bleher) shines as his new Massachusetts evil preppie girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Elle, trying to recover after being snubbed by her former boyfriend, discovers Paulette's (Marlene Montes) beauty parlor and seeks sanctuary. Montes is wonderful. Even though she channels Jennifer Coolidge, the role's originator, she adds her own dynamic personality to make the role her own.

UPS driver Kyle (Joel Miller) has the right amount of handsome. His manliness even works on Rufus (Mr. Montgomery Bartholemew Coleman-Houck aka Monty) playing Paulette's dog, who is rescued from her former malicious boyfriend, Dewey (Trevor Rex). Another newcomer, Rex plays other roles too, with my favorite being the alluring pool boy Nikos. He is truly outrageous on the witness stand.

Defendant Brooke Wyndham (Catie Marron) powers through the second act as the famous fitness guru on trial for her husband's murder. Marron leads the crew in the masterful dance jump-rope routine "Whipped into Shape" without missing a lick! It was phenomenal.

Steven Freitas, in his best character this year, plays Harvard Law Professor Callahan. As lead counsel on Brooke's defense team, Freitas portrays the most arrogant, loathsome, pernicious man on stage. He dares anyone to doubt him. It is his best role to date by far.

Engaging us all the way through Harvard is Emmett Forrest, Callahan's graduate student assistant. (I regret I could not stay for the post back-and-forth with the cast, so I could learn how to pronounce his name). Sittichai Chaiyahat played Emmett in his debut performance at NVA. His voice is clear and feels pure somehow all the while emitting an aura of warmth and masculinity. He has a new kind of presence which is engaging.

Most of the company's ensemble play multiple roles like Erin Vanderhyde. She adds punch to her performances debuting on the New Village stage as Kate and Enid. Vanderhyde earned her credits at the Young Actor's Theater (YAT) in Spring Valley.

In her best of her many parts, Chutney (Roma Watkins) is resplendent in all of that hair!

Adding to his resume with multiple personalities, listed as Aaron and others, is the go-to-mister-everybody, Thomas Reasoner, always reliable and entertaining. If the play is the body, then Reasoner is a rib.

Musical director Tony Houck earns his paycheck making big sound hidden behind a drape with his wee band of musicians, Marc Akiyama, Kyle Bayquen, and Nobuko Kemmotsu. He also does a walk-on claiming Nikos as his partner. It's delicious. One wonders if Rufus used his influence to get him the gig?

Alex Crocker-Lakness' lighting designs flows seamlessly between the very practical set designs of Christopher Scott Murillo. From time to time anything can and will probably go wrong as TJ Fucella discovered in the second act hitting a few scratchy sound patches.

As a side note, often when a theater is founded, the vow is to invite up and coming talent affording them growth opportunities be they on stage or behind it. In the case of "Legally Blonde The Musical" Director Kurner lives up to the NVA Mission Statement "...inspiring a home for performing and visual arts...a forum for laughter..."

That said, Samantha Vesco is another newcomer and a very new costume designer. Allowing that she has costumed a couple of smaller shows, Vesco got to stretch her wings on this cast of 18 not forgetting that many actors play multiple characters requiring additional changes. She rocked it.

Elle Woods (Danielle Levas), left, exposes the real killer as she defends her client. The defense team is, from left sitting, Professor Callahan (Steve Freitas), Brooke Wyndham (Catie Marron), Emmett Forrest (Sittichai Chaiyahat); standing back, Enid (Erin Vandehyde), Warner (Cody Ingram), and Vivienne (Cassie Belher).

And now let me introduce another newbie, Kyle Hawk. "Legally Blonde The Musical" is his first-ever-choreography job. Numero Uno! And let me be the first to say it – Kyle Hawk is a rising star! The spontaneous dance outbursts add to the excitement from high kicks to boogey-woogey, (he even included an homage to River Dance with a zingy tap sequence), Hawk flawlessly kept the performers on the go. Watch out world her comes Kyle Hawk. It will be exciting to follow his career. "Legally Blonde" is just the beginning for this talented fellow.

Unlike Paulette who claims, "cheerleaders scare me", snap your fingers and grab a seat before this delightful show sells out at New Village Arts Theatre - it delivers big time with "Legally Blonde The Musical". Now playing through Sept. 9, at 2787 State Street in Carlsbad. Box office: (760) 433-3245 or visit Plenty of street parking or behind the theatre in the Coaster parking lot.

This performance is ideal for anyone over 8 years old. Put your sparkle on and bring your snap. Rated 9 out of 10. It is joyful.

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