It is easy to tell where The Old Little Theater got its name. Attached to the College of Creative Studies building with a maximum capacity of around 50 people, the setting is small, quaint, and very intimate. It was a little warm in the room due in no small part to the intoxicating energy radiating from the cast. The audience responded to Shrunken Heads Production Company’s version of “Legally Blonde” with plenty of laughter and cheers in kind.
Shrunken Heads Production Company’s first musical of the year is “Legally Blonde.” The company is completely student-run, which is rather apparent in the show’s execution, but they somehow managed to pull through and put on an overall satisfying show.
The first song, “Omigod You Guys,” began strong and loud, capturing the essential cheer and enthusiasm right from the start in the show. This hilarious musical phrase reprises several times throughout the musical. The parody of sorority girls is absolutely hilarious, and, though they may seem frivolous and silly at first, you cannot help but love the Delta Nu girls for their support of Elle, the main character, in all her endeavors.
“Legally Blonde The Musical” is not so different from “Legally Blonde” the film, as the storyline and the characters are essentially the same. The story follows Elle Woods as president of her sorority, Delta Nu, at UCLA, as she waits for a marriage proposal by her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. Contrary to everyone’s beliefs, Warner dumps Elle saying that she is not a serious enough person for him to consider her his wife. He announces that he is going to Harvard Law School to pursue his dreams to become a senator. Elle is thrown into grieving her break-up until she decides to get into Harvard to chase after her dreams, of marrying Warner.
Natalie Meagher tried her best as Elle Woods and, though there were some wardrobe malfunctions, she certainly has the potential to do the role justice, which became evident after hearing her whistle tone at the very end of the show. In the songs where the choruses appeared, they were strong with excellently layered harmonies. It was also quite obvious that the main characters sang more confidently during ensemble songs where the choruses backed the solo artists. The most notable singer was Hunter Schwartz, who played the ruthless, stern Professor Callahan, his deep voice resonating nicely during “Blood in The Water.”
Mikayla Knight as Paulette Buonafanté, Elle’s hairstylist friend, was effective as an actress and a singer, especially during the iconic “Bend and Snap” scene. Ivana Cruz’s Enid Hoopes was hilarious, making subtle jokes from a lesbian perspective throughout the production. Her humor was especially potent during the “There! Right! There!” scene in which Callahan and his legal team ask if the pool guy is “gay or European?” The most sympathetic character was Kody Siemensma as Emmett Forrest, Elle’s TA who teaches her to study harder and ultimately falls in love with her.
The most touching scene was one where Elle decides to go home thinking she does not have what it takes to be a lawyer while Emmett desperately tries to convince her to stay, even professing his love for her quite suddenly. It is especially meaningful that Elle decides to stay at Harvard not for love, but because her female coworkers persuade Elle that she is a worthy law student.
The acting company used the small space well, playing instrumentals of the songs through speakers overhead. The actors often ran up and down the aisles, most likely because there was not enough room onstage but also to give the impression of a room full of actors when the company only numbered around 30. Not one of the cast wore a microphone, a testament of their skill at projecting their singing and speaking throughout the whole, albeit small, room.
The show was a little shaky at times, burdened with awkward pauses and improvisations most likely due to wardrobe problems and delays, but it was a valiant effort and an overall entertaining performance. It will be interesting to see what else Shrunken Heads Production Company has in store for the rest of the year and the years to come.