It’s a big stage, and the cast was more than up to the challenge of filling it with creatively choreographed dance routines and ensemble numbers. The musical, based on the book and 2001 movie of the same name, tells the story of Elle Woods, a blonde UCLA sorority girl and fashionista who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School, hoping to win him back. Once enrolled at Harvard, however, she discovers her own inner resources and talents, as she learns to aspire way beyond the role of trophy wife. At the same time, she teaches the stuffy East Coast establishment types some important lessons about living your truth, pursuing your dreams, and wearing pink.
This inverted fairytale has timeless appeal, and the Nonesuch Players threw themselves into it, body and soul. Rinny Leeming ’23 lit up the stage in the crucial role of Elle, and she was ably supported by Alex Massarotti ’23 as Emmet Forrest, a sympatico lawyer (and eventual love interest); Josh Rocha ’21 as Elle’s snooty ex, Warner Huntington III; Maggie Leeming ’21 as Warner’s even snootier new girlfriend Vivienne Kensington; and Hannah Long ’21 as Paulette Buonofuonte, a down-to-earth hairdresser who befriends Elle. Oliver Boisvert ’22 was suitably villainous as the sleazy law professor Callahan. Other cast members shone in supporting roles, and the dance numbers, ranging from Irish step to Broadway-style razzle dazzle, were impressive in their precision and pizazz. From the opening signature tune, “Omigod You Guys,” to the “Find My Way” finale, from up-tempo tunes to heartfelt ballads, the performers’ energy never let up.
Zoë Kassay, who is new to Rivers this year, was the show’s director. “I could not have asked for a better introduction to the Rivers winter musical process,” she said. “Our cast and crew truly embodied the Rivers motto of integrity and perseverance. I am so proud of the work of the entire team. They made this an experience I will never forget!”
Faculty member Julia Auster-Hogan is no stranger to Rivers musicals, but she also took on a new role for this show, serving as producer for the first time. She was particularly grateful for the team effort of the many community members who worked behind the scenes. “This was my first year as producer, and this group made it a dream come true. Zoë’s direction has been energetic, efficient and professional. John Bower gave us his time on paternity leave, Cathy Favreau gathered over 330 costume pieces, and Ben Leeming organized a flawless crew backstage. Not to mention the endless hard work from the kids. I could not be more proud of a production.”
In her program notes, Kassay had written that while Legally Blonde
may appear to traffic in stereotypes, it also—and especially in this production—explodes those stereotypes, as it pushes into satire. She continued, “I hope the audience will leave encouraged, empowered, and determined to make your dreams come true.” After the opening night performance, a happy, animated crowd seemed energized by the show, making it clear that the show’s positive message, conveyed in song, dance, and laughter, had landed.
To view a gallery of Legally Blonde photos, click here