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Legally Blonde, Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Virginia, April 27, 2019

Sammy Solomon

Woodrow Wilson High School


OMG, OMG you guys!  Washington Lee High School put on a bright and peppy performance of "Legally Blonde" this weekend, radiating messages of girl power and believing in yourself.


The musical is based on the book by Amanda Brown and the movie in 2001, both with the same title. The show revolves around Elle Woods, the president of the Delta Nu sorority at UCLA. She follows her ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III to Harvard Law School after being dumped for not being serious enough for him. Once she gets there, her world is flipped on its head when she learns of Warner's new girlfriend, Vivienne Kensington. To make matters worse, Elle still isn't taken seriously by anyone in her class and has to work twice as hard to succeed and get the internship she wants. With its themes of self-discovery, female empowerment, defying stereotypes and never judging a book by its cover, Legally Blonde is a welcome reminder that "being true to yourself never goes out of style." 


Julia Elman was radiant in the role of Elle Woods. Her peppiness and positive attitude never faltered, and her character arc throughout the show was a joy to watch. Elman's vocals were strong, especially on songs like "So Much Better," and later, "Legally Blonde."  Elman's on-stage relationships were authentic and believable, specifically with Drew Kellenberger who played Emmett Forrest. Kellenberger gave a polished depiction of his character. Vocally he held his own, bringing down the house at the end of the song "Chip on My Shoulder." His connection to Elman, especially in their heartbreaking duet "Legally Blonde," was evident and truly heartwarming, bringing the audience into their lives and making their struggles mean something personal to everyone in the room.


Another standout performance was from Anna Nowalk, who played Vivienne Kensington. While she started out as a mean girl, Nowalk transformed into a likable character and a supportive friend to Elle.  She reminded the audience that "girls have to stick together," and her clear vocals cut through the room like a knife, drawing all eyes to her. Sam Gerardi played Professor Callahan with suave charm and just the right amount of creepy looks at Elle and her classmates to develop his character. His vocals, especially on his signature number "Blood in the Water," were smooth and consistent. Another impressive performance was given by Emilia Couture who played Paulette, Elle's wacky stylist. Couture's voice was powerful, and her comic timing was great. Her Irish dancing with Kyle, played by Sylvain Chassagneux, was also noteworthy.


The Delta Nu ensemble had girl power in droves. Each member had a distinct character that remained consistent throughout the show, and every time they were all on stage together, their energy and positivity radiated off of them.


No show is complete without strong tech, and Washington Lee's was commendable. Many stages have a cyclorama in the back, but Lee made great use of theirs, projecting different colors onto it to reflect the mood of the show at that point, from pink at UCLA, to red with Callahan's "Blood in the Water," to rainbow during "Gay or European." The sound was a recurring issue throughout the show but the actors never let their mic issues get in the way of the show's progression, with excellent projection by Emilia Couture in particular. The set was beautiful, as were the costumes, creating a fully three-dimensional world in which the characters lived.


It's clear that Washington Lee's performance made every audience member feel "So Much Better" than before seeing their show!

Emma Conkle

Flint Hill School


The cast and crew of Washington-Lee High School certainly bent and snapped their way into the hearts of the audience in a lighthearted and energetic performance of Legally Blonde.


This iconic early 2000's movie was made into a musical in 2007. It follows sorority president Elle Woods as she enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend who thinks she is not serious enough. She finds out that she is actually a great lawyer and defends the innocent Brooke Wyndham using her skills. Although people doubt her throughout the show, she stays perfectly pink and herself with the help of her friends Paulette and Emmett.


Elle Woods, played by Julia Elman, had consistent vocals and great acting. Her transition from ditzy to serious was played very well and was emphasized by her movement, singing, and dialogue. She did a wonderful job and had a strong energy that led the show. She also changed her mannerisms as the scenes changed and her character developed. Julia also had numerous quick changes that were done seamlessly. She also had very good chemistry with Drew Kellenberger, who played Emmett Forrest.


Kellenberger did a great job playing the wholesome eventual love interest Emmett Forrest. His vocals were incredibly strong, and his falsetto was flawless especially in numbers as "Chip on My Shoulder." He also countered the not-so-nice boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Jack Hughes) in movement and voice. He showed the character and relationship development with Elle in a very believable way.


The energy of the Delta Nu sorority girls made them the best ensemble in the show. They truly captured the essence of college sorority girls and were committed to their roles no matter the situation. Standout characters from the ensemble were Pilar (Sophia Bailey), Margot (Camille Beck), and Serena (Marissa McDonell). Their vocals and dancing were excellent, which made them truly fun to watch as they guided Elle through her trials and tribulations.


Other outstanding performances included Paulette Bonafonte (Emilia Couture) and Brooke Wyndham (Ellie Berenson). Couture perfectly executed her comedic role. She had the audience laughing as she flawlessly performed her jokes and one-liners. Her her vocal skills were also showcased, as she was consistently strong in that aspect. Berenson was excellent in her movement and energy, and she did an amazing job singing while jump-roping, which is not an easy task. She also changed her movement and vocal choices when interacting with the other actors, which made her character that much clearer.


Notable aspects of tech were lighting, stage crew, and costumes. The lighting was pretty and colorful, and emphasized each character and aspect of Elle's story. The stage crew was efficient, quiet, fast, and had a cohesive look that set them apart from the actors. Finally, the costumes were incredibly detailed and helped the audience see what Elle was thinking and feeling through her outfit choices. Because part of Elle's story is that she is very into fashion, the costumes had to be impeccable, and the costume team nailed it.


Washington-Lee's Legally Blonde was an entertaining and vigorous show that emphasized how important it is to stay true to yourself. It was a pleasure to listen, watch, and have a great time.


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