All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
From the second the hot pink, glittery curtain rose for Heritage High School’s production of Legally Blonde, you knew you were in for a good, albeit pink time. With this being the first high school production of Legally Blonde in Virginia, Heritage had much to prove but most definitely did not disappoint.
The musical centers on UCLA sorority girl Elle Woods and her quest to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. Part of that quest though, means being accepted into Harvard Law School and proving that she’s smarter than her blonde hair and pretty face would lead people to believe. Faster than you can say, “Oh my God you guys!” Elle is chosen for Professor Callahan’s prestigious internship and is part of the legal team for the murder trial of the decade. Through her unwavering integrity and own brand of legal defense she finally does prove to everyone and herself that she can be both serious and legally blonde. The musical is based on the 2001 hit movie of the same name that starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle. The original Broadway stage production was both a critical and commercial success garnering seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk Award nominations. Filled with highly choreographed numbers and complicated staging, this production could be a daunting challenge, but Heritage definitely rose to that challenge.
The energy seemed to flow endlessly from the cast throughout the entire play and every single member committed completely to his or her character. Whether they were in the background or center stage everyone interacted with their surroundings in character and never made you think that they were all high school students.
As Elle, sophomore Katie Blackburn proved to have a voice and acting chops way beyond her years. There was never a missed note or punch line she did not land. She made Elle the perfect amount of girly and peppy without coming off as annoying or trying too hard. Hard-working Emmett (David Foulke) was equal amounts encouraging and adorable which made the eventual relationship between him and Elle all that much sweeter.
Michelle Radcliffe particularly shined as hair dresser Paulette, nailing both the Italian accent and the vocally difficult song “Ireland.” It seemed every line that came out of her mouth left the audience out of breath with laughter. She was not the only one though, from the stereotypical nerdy Harvard law student to the very literal court stenographer, every person hit the comic cues perfectly and left the audience in stitches scene after scene.
The set was extremely versatile and made the complicated staging look seamless. Although there were some microphone troubles, the cast persevered and the near-professional pit covered up a lot of the problems. On-stage costume changes and perfect lighting also genuinely brought the production to another level.
Heritage High School tackled this extremely difficult musical with humor and poise. It was thoroughly entertaining. Although this may be the first time a high school has performed Legally Blonde in Virginia, the bar has been set extremely high by Heritage.