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Bisesti helps EOT go ‘Legally Blonde’
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George Cahill and Marcie Christy star in Eight O’Clock Theatre’s production of “Legally Blonde – The Musical,” running through Nov. 18 at Largo Cultural Center.
Eight O’Clock Theatre once again proves its dexterity with its production of a 21st century musical based on a well-loved 2001 film.

Eight O’Clock Theatre’s “Legally Blonde – The Musical,” with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach, runs through Sunday, Nov. 18, at Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m. Matinees are Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets are $25.50 for adults and $12.50 for children 19 and younger. Call 587-6793.

Based on the 2001 film “Legally Blonde” starring Reese Witherspoon, “Legally Blonde – The Musical” is centered around a well-to-do California blonde – ostensibly ditzy and pampered – who is devastated when her wealthy boyfriend Warren dumps her before heading off to law school because he feels she’s not intelligent enough to marry.

Her response is obvious: Attend Harvard Law School to win him back.

Followed by a Greek chorus of sorority sisters, Elle strives to become the woman Warren wants – and discovers herself along the way. Things don’t quite work out the way she planned, but that’s all part of Elle’s transformation.

Domenic Bisesti directed the production. “Legally Blonde – The Musical” is Bisesti’s directorial debut with Eight O’Clock Theatre.

“Behind all the glitter, pop songs, dance numbers and pink, ‘Legally Blonde’ is a story about self-discovery and falling in love,” Bisesti writes in his notes printed in the show’s playbill. “When I was first approached about this project, I jumped at the chance. Although I never cared for the movie, I felt the book and score really worked for the stage. The root message is one we all could learn from: No person, no job and no object is worth sacrificing who you are.”

According to Bisesti, casting the production was a “nightmare.” More than 60 people auditioned.

“The talent just kept coming and coming,” Bisesti said. “Luckily, I was able to assemble my short list of people who complemented each other and filled all the holes.”

Eight O’Clock Theatre’s “Legally Blonde – The Musical” features an outstanding ensemble cast.

In the lead role is Marcie Christy. As Elle, she is a perfect fit: Bubbly and spoiled one minute, sly and serious the next. Her acting is strong, her singing splendid and her timing precise.

Warner is played by Josh Duart, making his debut at EOT. Last year, he appeared as Bobby in “Small Craft Warnings” at West Coast Players. Duart’s performance is solid and convincing.

George Cahill plays Emmett. Cahill last appeared at EOT as Cosmo in “Singin’ in the Rain.” He plays his role smoothly, and the audience is rooting for him before they realize it.

Christina Capehart nearly steals the show as Paulette. Her thickly-accented New England hairdresser doesn’t appear until close to the end of the first act when she sings “Ireland.” Capehart – seen in EOT’s productions of “Broadway’s Best,” “Gypsy” and “42nd Street” – does a superb job in this supporting comedic role.

Another stand-out is Jerry Slutzky as Professor Callahan. Slutzky imbues the character with as much methodical mercilessness as a great white shark in feeding frenzy.

Other memorable performances include Shelby Heye as Margot; Megan Hoxie as Serena; Caitlin Greene as Pilar; Amy Dobbert as Brooke; and William E. Masuck as Chad/Dewey/Kyle.

The musical numbers vary in style, but veteran musician Emi P. Stefanov captures the divergent tones – from Motown to bubblegum pop – flawlessly with her orchestra. Bisesti also serves as the show’s choreographer – and from the opening number “Omigod You Guys” to “Blood in the Water” and “Bend and Snap,” the show features spectacle after spectacle … the type of thing audiences are used to seeing at Eight O’Clock Theatre.

“Legally Blonde – The Musical” may not attain the status of Broadway’s legendary classics, but productions like this showcase it as a crowd-pleaser, a guilty pleasure and a clever compilation of period tropes, musical styles and truisms. Much like Elle, the play is sugary and frivolous on the surface but smart and wily beneath its flashy façade. Bisesti deftly balances the show’s flashy flamboyance with its theme of self-discovery.
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