5 Things to love about CMT’s ‘Legally Blonde’

Children’s Musical Theaterworks is pretty in pink for just three more performances on this closing weekend of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” I saw the show Friday night, and while I don’t write full-scale reviews of CMT productions, I often share some of the things I really liked. Here are five highlights of “Legally Blonde”:

1.

Mallory Parker soars as Elle. Her stage presence as the show’s leading character — a UCLA sorority gal who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School — is exuberant and confident. Yet Parker also finds the quiet vulnerabilities in her character. Elle grows to realize that she doesn’t have to fulfill society’s expectations of how a woman with her background and looks is supposed to behave. This tension between entitlement and yearning, when played with empathy, makes for an empowering role.

legally blonde performance
Mallory Parker stars as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.” Photo / Children’s Musical Theaterworks

Parker’s vocals are quite good, too, from her satisfying belt in “So Much Better” to the plaintive title song, which she sings when Harvard life seems to be falling apart. More than anything, Parker sparks a connection with the audience. It’s an impressive performance.

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In 2018, ‘Legally Blonde’ graduates to a new era

The director of the new Children’s Musical Theaterworks production updates the show’s message of female empowerment

THEATER PREVIEW

You’re a first-time director for Children’s Musical Theaterworks, and your assignment is “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” You find out that a special guest will be dropping by six days before opening night to help your cast prepare: none other than Laura Bell Bundy, who originated the role of Elle Woods on Broadway.

Are you nervous?

Well, sure, says director Vanessa Gonzalez. Who wouldn’t be? But she took it in stride.

legally blonde
The cast of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” Photo / Children’s Musical Theaterworks

“There was definitely a large amount of nerves that came with preparing for the master class, but the excitement of getting feedback and the BEST set of eyes for this production truly outweighed any nerves,” she says.

I caught up this week with the busy Gonzalez, who last year choreographed CMT’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She has her hands full overseeing a production with 50 cast members ages 12-20.

Q: Tell us a little about what Bundy focused on during the class.

A: Laura Bell focused on character nuances for both principal and ensemble actors throughout the show. I selected four numbers/scenes for her to watch and she then spoke with almost every actor about their characters’ motivation and specificity during the scene. She was particularly helpful with the Delta Nu girls in developing different but complementary character types.

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Win tickets to see Laura Bell Bundy, Broadway’s original Elle Woods

Broadway and TV star is in Fresno on Sunday to conduct a master class and give a mini-concert in advance of Children’s Musical Theaterworks’ ‘Legally Blonde’

Welcome to Fresno, Laura Bell Bundy.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell for readers out there, then you aren’t up on your “Legally Blonde” lore. Bundy was the first Elle Woods in the Broadway musical. (And hardcore theater fans know that originating a role is a very big deal, indeed.) Bundy is in town this weekend to offer a master class and mini-concert for cast members and the general public in the upcoming Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Legally Blonde,” which opens Friday, April 13, at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

LBB Poster

And you can win a pair of tickets to the mini-concert and the CMT production of “Legally Blonde” itself!

Bundy’s master class is noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the theater. It will follow the typical format, says CMT board president K.C Rutiaga: The cast is prepared to perform scene work, group numbers, and principal solos and duets from the show with Bundy’s guidance and suggestions. The class will take place on stage with the observing non-cast members watching up close from the audience. Bundy also will do a Q&A session with the cast and audience members involving the Broadway production of “Legally Blonde,” her career, and the industry in general. Tickets are $40.

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