By Sheri Berger
Lofte Community Theatre, Saturday July 16, 2022, 7PM
Omigod you guys! The cast of Legally Blonde at the Lofte Community Theatre has created an energetic show! From the very beginning until the very end of this musical, there is nonstop music, energy, and dancing. This cast is having fun, and they know the story inside and out.
Legally Blonde began as a book written by Amanda Brown, and more mainstream, a popular movie released in 2001, but it became a musical in 2007. Like many musicals there are pieces of the story itself the writers will have to leave out, change, or only allude to. So in that sense, a knowledge of the book, movie, and musical can really work better together if you’re trying to understand more of the story as an audience member. This musical is mostly written in a style called “sung-through” where the dialogue is sung instead of spoken – however there are some vignettes where dialogue is spoken, or “talk-sung”, with orchestra mostly in the background.
Though the story centers around Elle, which is a heavy-lift and well-played by Wesleyan student, Olivia Sis, the play would absolutely not be successful without the rest of this large and talented cast. Elle’s quest is to prove to her ex-boyfriend that she is a serious person, worthy of marrying and becoming a politician’s wife. However, she first needs to get into Harvard to attend with him. The entire cast makes great theatre, working together for the common goal and this cast has pulled out all of the stops to make the musical a success, and ready for opening night.
Though the story can be at times, a bit materialistic, superficial and unrealistic, it is a fun take on those who live in the bubbles of the California privileged and the Massachusetts Harvard elite. Legally Blonde on a deeper level examines the question of whether a woman can be ultra-feminine and “girly” and accepted in intellectual spaces. Elle walks into a space and unequivocally believes she can be qualified for whatever she sets her mind to. Her confidence hardly ever wanes. However, the redeeming quality of this musical is that it promotes the idea of sisterhood, and for women to be confident in themselves and to not allow others to quantify their value. It also eventually defies the idea that marriage is the only way to be happy, and for women to also explore themselves intellectually. For instance, Elle’s father tells her that Harvard Law school isn’t for her and “it’s for boring, ugly, serious people.” Elle continues to pursue getting into Harvard so that she can show she’s the kind of woman her ex-boyfriend Warner wants, she eventually is forced to do the work or quit. The comedy is that she does it in her own unique and sometimes absurd style, and the music and dancing keeps us entertained. Ultimately Elle finds happiness, but she finds it by investing in herself and her ability to take care of herself first before she thinks of marriage.
Peyton Banks, a student at Midland University, plays Warner and has a solo part that allows the actor to show off his impressive voice. Warner’s character is a charismatic jerk that you still can’t help but like, and Banks plays this large role wonderfully. Neal Herring, who recently played Ellwood in Harvey (Lofte), played Elle’s father, and her mother was played by Lofte veteran, Melissa Holder. Emmett Forrest is played by Alex Rownd and plays a sweet and loyal friend to Elle.
For the antagonists of the story, Max Antoine who plays Professor Callahan has an absolutely captivating voice and presence on stage. Other law school antagonists are Vivianne Kensington, played by Zoe Tien, Whitney by Meagan Dauel, Sundeep Padamadan, played by Gus Pope. Yacht millionaire student Aaron Schultz is played by Ben Brickner, and feminist and activist Enid Hoops is played by Riley Herring.
Anna Rebecca Felber plays the straight-talking, comedic Paulette, who keeps the audience laughing throughout. She is a breath of fresh air and her chemistry with the cast is readily apparent. Her scenes with the eye candy Irish UPS man, Kyle O’Boyle, played by Wade Mumford, were absolutely hilarious and might even make you blush a little. I especially enjoyed the Riverdance scene.
If you have seen the movie, the play is a little different with how it handles Elle’s college friends and Delta Nu sisters. In the play they are most present as The Greek Chorus. Elle’s friends are played by Kody Horrocks as Margot, Chloe Bohaty as Serena, Madelaine Comte as Pilar. The Greek Chorus played by Sarah Jones, Anna Hageman, and Lily Frields. The rest of the Delta Nu Ensemble are played by Sara Erickson, Noah Gern, Kharis Jensen, Hanaa Tatby, Kaylee Tighe, and Anna Hageman.
Natalie McGovern does a wonderful job as Kate, who helps Elle stay on track with her studying for the LSAT, with rap music provided by Jordan Parker as Grand Master Chad.
The Lofte Choreographer, Becca Schumucker, also had a fun part as the accused murderer, fitness guru, and former Delta Nu sorority member, Brooke Wyndham. True to her craft, she led a fun sports-themed choreography and then, without missing a beat, went right back into acting her scenes. Hope Stratman played her step-daughter, Chutney, who takes a shower immediately after getting a perm. Lofte veteran Theresa Rennels played the Judge, Miki Valenta played the D.A. Joyce Riley, and Caleb Schumuker played the either “Gay or European?” pool-boy, Nikos Argitakos.
You will get plenty of lessons for the move called the “bend and snap” (a dance move the LA Laker girls do), positive affirmations, music, lots of laughs and dancing. As a dog lover, I have to let you know there are real dogs on stage. Bruiser Woods is played by Percy. Percy’s pet parents are Tim and Janet Sorensen. And Rufus is played by Inga, whose pet parents are Don and River.
This play was Directed by Kevin Colbert, who also had a small role as the college admissions professor, Pforzheimer. Benjamin Petitford provides Music Direction. The Orchestra very completely consists of brass, violin, piano, keyboard, electric, bass guitar, and drums.
Stage Management was done by Rilynn and Kimberly Whitney, Costumes were done by Janet Sorensen, Jade Brown and Renae Tieken, Lighting Design by Kevin Colbert, Sound Design by Nick Haussler, Light Board by Kelli Brewer, Scenic Artist by Linda Dabbs and Set Deisgn by Mark C. Koski of Scenographics.
The Lofte Community Theatre is a beautiful barn-style theatre in Manley, Nebraska and seats 365 people. They have concessions which can be brought into the auditorium to have during the show. You can even get wine or beer. It is a warm, inviting, country farm space that welcomes you into the heart of rural theatre. It is located at 15841 Manely Rd., Manley, NE.
If you go: Remaining shows are July 21-24, 28-31. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows are at 7PM and Sunday shows are at 2PM. For tickets, go to https://lofte.org or call the box office at 402.234-2553.
Sheri Berger is a business minion, dog momma, arts groupie, and co-host of the Platte River Bard Podcast with her husband, Chris Berger.
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