Capital Playhouse offers up frothy 'Legally Blonde' as spring entertainment

Contributing writerMay 9, 2013 

  • ‘LEGALLY BLONDE’

    What: Capital Playhouse presents the musical based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie about a spoiled sorority girl who sets her sights on Harvard Law School.

    When: 7:30 tonight and Saturday, plus May 15-18 and 22-25; 2 p.m. Sunday, plus May 19 and 26

    Where: Capital Playhouse, 612 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

    Tickets: $33-$39 adults, $28-$34 seniors and youths; for the May 15 and 22 shows, pay what you can.

    Information: 360-943-2744, capitalplayhouse.com

Sometimes, you want deep and thought-provoking theater, and sometimes, you just want to kick back and be entertained.

Capital Playhouse is betting that spring weather has you ready for the latter.

In its opening weekend at the Playhouse is “Legally Blonde,” a high-energy musical based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie about a sorority girl who proves to have more substance than anyone expected.

“Let’s just say it’s not a thinker,” said Lauren O’Neill, the theater’s managing director. “It’s absolutely fun. There’s heart in the story, there’s an arc, there’s a denouement, but it is more entertainment than anything.”

“It is a fluff piece,” said director Chris Serface, “but there’s such an important message in the show: You can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t look at the character of Elle and say she’s a dumb blonde, because there is so much more within her.”

Of course, as the musical starts off, judge her we do. But eventually, Elle – played here by Bailey Boyd – finds a deeper meaning to life.

That’s also the approach Serface is taking to directing. His goal has been to keep the fun — which includes lots of high-energy dancing, lots of cute pink clothes, and not one but two canine co-stars — and add a bit more depth to the story.

“I want to add a new layer of emotion to it by helping the actors find new meaning and maybe something they haven’t seen,” said Serface, just named the managing artistic director of Tacoma Little Theater.

He said it can be challenging mounting a production that people already know well — in this case, from both the movie and MTV’s 2008 “Legally Blonde — The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.” Because rights to the musical just became available, there also have been a number of regional productions recently, including one last month at Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

“What I and my creative staff wanted to do is make sure that everybody sees something different,” said Serface, whose has directed for the playhouse’s summer Kids at Play program. “We want to make sure that they come to love our version, so the challenge is to hold true to the text but add that extra layer, develop the characters more.”

A good example is the development of the romance of Elle and Emmett, a teaching assistant at law school. “It’s fun to see how that goes from ‘I’m going to take her under my wing’ to ‘She is a lot more than I thought she was’ to the romance blossoming,” he said.

“In the end, Elle finds out it’s not all about being the richest, most popular person. It’s all about what’s inside.”

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