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Legally Blonde - Woodrow Wilson High School - Washington, DC - November 17, 2017

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Legally Blonde - Woodrow Wilson High School - Washington, DC - November 17, 2017

Lauren Bogle

Woodgrove High School

 

One thing is for certain: everyone's night would be So Much Better' if they watched Woodrow Wilson's 'Legally Blonde!' Based off the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, the musical is a contemporary piece exemplifying what it means to be a modern woman, in both careers and relationships. The piece covers the transition of a hopelessly in love sorority girl (Joey Schulman) into a self-empowered, sharp-witted lawyer on the hunt for justice with integrity. Along the way, she teaches about female solidarity and sexuality while retaining her "seriousness." Woodrow Wilson embraced the heavy subject matter, such as sexism, sexual assault, and stereotyping, while balancing the comedy of the situations and characters.

 

From the opening notes to the curtain call, the show was bursting with enthusiasm and energy. The characterization of every actor was individual and distinct, while also blending with the group. Lines and pacing flowed naturally, accentuated by beautiful vocals, and the cast worked together as a cohesive group without showing a moment of dullness or disconnect. The tech was executed with cleanliness and professionalism that lent itself to an enthusiastic crew and knowledgeable overseeing by both director (Harriet Bronstein) and stage manager (Athena Swaider).

 

Schulman gave a stunning performance, easily at home among those on Broadway. Her Elle was relatable and genuine: teaching without condescension, learning without grudge, and encouraging to those around her. While Elle can be the "typical sorority girl," Schulman gave her a depth and life that made everyone in the room fall in love with her. The titular song 'Legally Blonde' left many audience members in tears at her moment of weakness, and many more in tears at her returning strength. Her vocals, while being the hardest in the show, were stunning throughout. Consistently at a professional level, Schulman truly lifted the show up with her diligence and obvious talent.

 

Elle was supported by a fantastic female cast, with Sophie Thurschwell, in the role of Vivienne Kensington, as the unlikely leader. Thurschwell gave a detailed and complex performance, showing the multifaceted sides of her 'Jackie' character. Her story arc is difficult to act and even harder to act well, but Thurschwell brought life to the character, and showed the complexity of the issues she was dealing with. Her switching "sides," while abrupt in the script, transitioned well by the actress and made it understandable to the audience by her taking advantage of small moments and facial expressions. Also notable was Ernesto Fritts as Professor Callahan. His voice was easily superior to an average high schooler. He handled the difficult runs with ease and commanded attention during his songs and scenes. His character arc was executed with prevalent attention to detail, from his slightly leering looks in 'Blood in the Water' all the way to his confident strides away from Elle.

 

The tech categories were similarly detailed and consistent. Their makeup, while not overly flashy, was clean and differentiated the groups well. The costumes were notable, with Elle's frequent changes and the high levels of coordination demanded from the large ensembles. While there were some problems with diction, the actors' emoting and characterization made up for any gaps. The orchestra had wonderful synchronization with the performers, an important accomplishment for this musical. The crew did a great job of moving quickly and transitioning the scene with as little influence as possible.

 

Overall, Woodrow Wilson created a truly beautiful and moving piece of art, emphasizing the importance of self-empowerment and female solidarity. A moving experience for all audience members, the cast and crew of 'Legally Blonde' should be truly proud of their very apparent demanding work.


Lukas D’Errico

Woodgrove High School

 

In a world that is so fixated on education and intelligence, there isn't always room for things pink and sparkly, but of course there will always be exceptions. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown, as well as the 2001 movie, Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, a member of the Delta Nu sorority, who enrolls at Harvard Law to woo back her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. During her time at Harvard she is constantly typed as a "dumb blonde" leading her classmates to underestimate her talent in law. Through her studies, Elle learns how she can use law to help others, and, with the help of her new friends, shows everyone what she's truly made of.

 

Woodrow Wilson's production of Legally Blonde pulled out all the stops when it came to all things colorful and flashy. With an amazingly energized chorus, and a talented set of leads, the show was something to remember. It was a perfect blend of pure hilarity, coupled with enough depth and sincerity to make a connection with the audience.

 

Emmett Forrest, played by William Wright, did a good job with his character, and all aspects of him only got better in the second act. Joey Schulman, who brilliantly played Elle, was one of the most flawless, entertaining, and jaw-dropping high school actors I've ever had the honor to witness. With Broadway level vocal talent, and a nearly flawless understanding of her character and her arc, Joey Schulman displayed an amazing performance that took the show from good to amazing.

 

Professor Callahan, played by Ernesto Fritts, made for the perfect foil of Elle: intimidating, yet maintaining his teacher-like composure. With the character of Callahan, it often can be extremely easy to pull the character too far, or perhaps not far enough, but Fritts managed to find the perfect sweet spot, producing a character with almost always perfect expressions and intentions, alongside smooth vocals. Vivienne Kensington, played by Sophie Thurschwell, exhibited one of the best understandings of character out of almost all the cast. Vivienne can easily get pushed to the side if not played correctly, but Thurschwell had a flawless grasp on Vivienne's arc, and with vocals comparable to that of Joey Schulman, she created a character that was far from the sidelines. Alongside the named characters was an ensemble not to be forgotten. There was a consistence of high energy, and never did anyone seem out of place.

 

With astonishing, yet sometimes distracting light, and choreography that was well above a high school level, Woodrow Wilson took their show to another level. Sound was overall good, making for some lines to be lost. Nonetheless, tech still did an overall good job that made for an excellent production.

 

Aside from some minor technical issues, Woodrow Wilson put on an extremely professional-looking high school show, with an amazingly talented group of lead and supporting actors, and an unforgettable ensemble of high energy. Legally Blonde can often be quite an undertaking at the high school level, and is easily taken down the wrong path, but just like Elle Woods, Woodrow Wilson took up the challenge and proved everyone wrong. It can be done. And they did it well.

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