by Paul Bruce
I just came from The Players Guild of Dearborn where the awesome troubadours who populate that space have just scored big for the second time, making them two for two with the productions that compose this season.
LEGALLY BLONDE, the musical version of the movie of the same name, is a masterfully executed show with top notch staging, vocals and choreography. A tip of the hat is hereby given to Ron Williams Jr., Steven C. Woznicki and Jenny McPherson for those tasks respectively. The snappy dance numbers and crackerjack orchestra are positively enviable.
Headlining the cast are Maura Donovan as Elle Woods and Gannon Styles as Emmett Forrester. Ms. Donovan’s performance is nothing short of stellar in all three of her triple threat arenas. It is a joy to listen to her sing (particularly the gorgeous 11th hour number “Legally Blonde”) and her dancing and acting are positively seamless. Mr. Styles is charming and his pleasant voice and demeanor as Emmett makes the evening extra memorable. The two perform well together.
The marvelous performances, don’t end there however. The cast is littered with engaging actors who, each in turn, give the show another sparkling bauble to hang from the rafters. Nancy Valentini, in the role of Paulette, returns to the Guild with all the style and energy for which she is known. Her flawless interpretation and comic timing, coupled with her marvelous voice, allow her to stop the show multiple times, much to the delight of the audience. Her real life husband, Lonnie Valentini, plays the part of her romantic interest, Kyle, the burly and handsome UPS man who arrives in her world at the most opportune moment.
A Greek chorus, played by a well rounded bevy of talented young actresses is smashing and worth the price of admission to watch alone. Mariah Berryman, Lia Bertucci, Kaela Green, Rebekah Preiss, Danielle Riley, Bridget Styles and Cara Weglarz provide an enthusiasm and energy that is contagious and they set the show on fire whenever they appear.
Of special note are the roles of Professor Callahan, Warner Huntington III, Brooke Wyndham, Vivian Kensington and Enid Hooper played by Kenny Konaszewski, Adam Carey, Caitlin Donovan, Courtney McKenna and Jazzmin Sharara respectively. Each gives a memorable performance that adds to this tightly knit ensemble show. Equally talented is the Guild’s Sydnee Rose Dombrowski in the role of the judge. Nice to see her back on stage!!
A particularly interesting part of this production is the linking of many real life family members into roles that make them family on stage. Maura Donovan is parented in the show by her own mother and father, veteran performers Kim and Joe Donovan. Nancy Valentini (Paulette) and Lonnie Valentini (Kyle) are her real life aunt and uncle. To complete the scenario her real life sister, Caitlin Donovan, plays Brooke.
The show is produced by Loretta Bullock and Mike Mayne. Timothy Carney is the assistant director and Adam Lynch is the show’s dance captain.
Kudos to all the remaining cast and crew who look like they are having a wonderful time at every moment. The show plays ten more times with performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I give this show my highest of recommendations and strongly urge theater lovers to get out and see this splendid piece of entertainment.