Photo courtesy of Xavier Theatre | The Resee Whiterspoon classic took a spin on the Xavier stage during Parent’s Weekend. The movie took on a musical twist as it explored the themes of female empowerment and feminism in a fun and pink fashion.
Legally Blonde is a hallmark of feminist theory. It is vulnerable in its exploration of sexual harassment, patriarchal minimization of women in the workforce and the discouragement women looking to enter historically male-dominated fields experience.
Most importantly, the plot doesn’t follow the story arch of a typical romantic comedy, and passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. The focus of the show is not on Elle or Paulette as extensions of the men they care about, the focus is on them and their ability to reclaim what was theirs in the first place: their femininity.
Just as Elle let her achievements rather than what others thought of her speak for her worth, Xavier Theatre put on a phenomenal show that spoke highly of Xavier Theatre’s ability all on its own.
“The set was incredibly made and the detail in every aspect of the performance was great,” first-year audience member Tyler Gilkey noted.
In an interview found in the program, lighting designer Alice Trent said, “I think it is a common misconception to view Legally Blonde as just a fun romantic comedy. To be sure, it is funny and there is a healthy dose of romance within the script. However, when I listen to the music and watch Elle Woods develop as a person, I find this story really starts to become about empowerment.”
“We did take a more feminist spin on it,” sophomore Gigi Relic, who played Elle Woods, said. “Everyone’s on Elle’s side throughout the show … it’s so inspiring.”
“When we started the process, I thought Legally Blonde was a run-of-the-mill sing-and-dance musical,” first-year Seth Mobley, who played Emmet Richmond, said. “The perspective Steven took elevated it to a level that I think is important to today’s society.”
Director Steven Skiles cited the magnitude of the reactions to the Women’s March on Washington and his female students as his inspiration for choosing the show. In his director’s notes, Skiles describes “the reactions of so many of the theatre students, particularly the female students, to what was happening in Washington that day. I wanted to find a show that helped tell their story.”
Relic also noted that getting to “play with dogs” was her favorite part. The audience adored the cast, but loved their two canine companions marginally more. Bruiser and Rufus, played by Biscuit and Jackson, stole the audience’s heart with their charm and tricks. There’s something pure and heartwarming about incorporating a girl’s best friend.
The show explores serious themes and exposes gender inequality, but what sets it apart from other icons of feminism is that it is funny, entertaining, and in Xavier Theatre’s production, incredibly well-done. Choreographer Rachel Petranek a junior, said, “As a cast they grew so much from the beginning to the end … the community was so supportive and inspiring.”
Specifically, Petranek and I discussed the noteworthy high kicks and phenomenal blocking. At various moments throughout the show I noticed the director, choreographer and set designer’s purposeful and effective use of levels. The energy of the cast was matched in the first and second acts, and the performers truly seemed “whipped into shape” by the fast-moving choreography. The costuming was consistent with the time period and wonderfully, daringly pink.
Xavier Theatre’s production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” left the audience “so much better than before.”
By: Brittney Wells ~Staff Writers~