The Playgoer: Legally Blegh!

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Legally Blegh!

Uh oh... "Legally Blonde The Musical" may be a hit.

According to Riedel today the word from San Francisco is good:

On the heels of "The Wedding Singer" and "High Fidelity," "Legally Blonde," which opens in New York in April, seemed more of the same, especially when stacked against "Spring Awakening," a genuinely original musical that's captured the industry's imagination.

But on the West Coast, critics and audiences have found "Legally Blonde" - bright, peppy and relentlessly pink - irresistible.

The strategy? Women, women, women. And teenage girls. Lots of them. "Wicked," with laughs and better fashion.

"Feminism gets a coat of bright pink paint in 'Legally Blonde,' a smart, sparkling homage to girl power," said the Contra Costa Times.
Have you retched yet?


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the show? Or are you just dimissing it on what you assume it is? If you did see the show, I'd love to hear specifically what you disliked about the production. I've always enjoyed reading your reviews.

Playgoer said...

See the show? Of course not! I haven't seen the movie.

But right you are to shame me for it.... Though note I'm not even questioning above the quality of the show. I just wretch at the thought of Legally Blonde The Musical.

I'm honestly open to someone I trust telling me this is surprisingly entertaining and well crafted. But meanwhile, look--it's a ripe target whem mocking all that's wrong with Broadway and the contemporary musical.

Tom said...

"Wretch" is a noun. (Or pejorative.) "Retch" is a verb. "Legally Blonde" is a hit. (Probably.)

Dave said...

LB is neither "surprisingly entertaining" nor "well-crafted," but it is slick and deliberately crafted to appeal to a certain audience.

As I watched it (never having seen the movie either), I kept thinking "Why does this story need to be musicalized?;" a question that the show never answers. It hits its marks like clockwork(anyone who does not know within 5-10 minutes how the whole thing is going to play out, in terms of numbers, beats, and finale has never seen a musical or a Hollywood movie) and provides a completely bland, safe, and predictable evening.

Performances range from acceptable to downright annoying (the worst offender to these tired old eyes was Orfeh, but it was a close race between her, the long-in-the-tooth-even-from-Row-U "sorority girls" and the posture-challenged Kate Shindle); the score is mostly forgettable except for one comedy number in Act Two that is actually funny and the earworm opening number that is impossible to shake.

All that said, the audience it wisely aims at is the tweens who so love "Wicked" and who ate it all up with a spoon the night I saw it.

J. Kelly said...

I was once forced to watch Legally Blonde with my (female) roommates, who had it on VHS, and was pleasantly surprised at how clever it was... When I heard there was a musical being made of it, I thought: Of course! Seems like it fall right into the classic Underestimated Gal Proves She Can Make It genre...

I know it's tempting to mock shows like this, but the stigma against entertainment aimed at young women that is somewhat unfair. I mean, why not aim a musical at the demographic where you'll find the most avid fans of musicals? And why not lure all those High School Musical fans to a Broadway show?

And, uh, somebody tell Riedel that Spring Awakening is based on a certain 1891 play of the same name, so it's not exactly "genuinely original." Why does the cultural establishment continue to believe that basing a musical on a popular movie instead of a play or a book somehow means it's less original?

P.S. Re: your title "Legally Blegh!" Did you by any chance grow up reading Mad Magazine? That seems like a classic Mad-ism...

Playgoer said...

Thanks Tom for correcting my pejorative spelling on "retch." I am duly humbled, and the post is duly emended.

To J. I say- a) I wouldn't say I was a Mad Magazine freak, but I guess all those sophomoric movie parody spreads left their mark, eh? Good detective work!

and b) You're absolutely right to raise the questions of how a musical adaptation of Spring Awakening is any more "Original" than Legally Blonde. Every time we (myself included) complain about musicals relying on other plays, books, or movies need to remember that nearly ALL the "Great Musicals" were "adapted from another medium" as the Oscars say.

For instance:
Show Boat (Edna Ferber)
Cabaret (Christopher Isherwood)
Guys & Dolls (Damon Runyon)
Porgy & Bess
and nearly ALL of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

R & H, actually may have been the first to do a musical based on a movie (instead of the other way around) with "King and I". Yes, it was a book, too, but the popularity of "Anna & The King of Siam" was clearly what sparked the project.

Haveing said all that, though....

I do think turning a relatively brand new pop movie into just a stage copy with music is fair game for criticism as a cynical enterprise. Especially when something as hip as "High Fidelity" is put through the Musical Theatre 101 meat grinder to resemble all other musicals (and thus lose its inherent appeal) instead of take the opportunity to recreate the form.

Yes, it's not nice to make fun of a show without seeing it. Guilty. But come on--it's Legally Blonde! How could they not know that was going to become a punchline.

Lastly, maybe the one encouraging sign is they did sign on the young talent of the "Batboy" writers to do the score. Now I never saw "Batboy" and know people either loved or loathed it. But it did seem like something new and enjoyed (still does) a kind of cult status that might be a good sign.

Who knows.

Anonymous said...

"Especially when something as hip as "High Fidelity" is put through the Musical Theatre 101 meat grinder to resemble all other musicals (and thus lose its inherent appeal) instead of take the opportunity to recreate the form."

Big of you to fess up to not having actually seen Legally Blonde, but now I can't help wondering if you saw the High Fidelity musical. I don't ask to be cheeky, I'm honestly just curious.

Anonymous said...

I'll take that as a no then?

Playgoer said...

Sorry Hillary-- Didn't mean to ignore your comment. I'm just travelling all week--especially bad today having had my return flight cancelled last night.

In brief--nope, didn't see High Fidelity either. Hope that was clear. Fair? Probably not. But I guess I just file that under the part of this blog that is unabashedly "gossip" of which I'm not ashamed. But I understand how the balance of gossip & criticism is a hard one to pull off and can be unintentionally misleading.

My apologies if I am being unfair to Fidelity or Blonde--and I really do welcome any "dissenting" opinions from readers out there who HAVE seen the shows.