Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Even adorable dogs can't upstage the high-energy cast of 'Legally Blonde' at Richey Suncoast Theatre

Legally Blonde runs through May 28 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. From left are Suzanne Meck as Pilar, Kaela Koch as Margot and Athena Romanski as Elle.

Richey Suncoast Theatre

Legally Blonde runs through May 28 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. From left are Suzanne Meck as Pilar, Kaela Koch as Margot and Athena Romanski as Elle.

You know a musical is good when even two adorable little dogs can't steal the show (though they do get lots of "oohs" and "aahs" when they make their wide-eyed, well-behaved appearances).

But that's what happens in Legally Blonde, the 2007 Broadway hit playing through May 28 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in downtown New Port Richey.

Thanks to a stellar, almost 50-member cast of high-energy singer/dancers, led by beautiful RST newcomer Athena Tootie Jolee Romanski (yes, that is her full name) as sorority president/aspiring Harvard Law School student Elle Wood, Melissa Smith's knockout choreography, and Marie Skelton's fine direction, Legally Blonde delivers so much pow and punch that the puppies become just two more elements in an overall adorable show.

Sure, it's politically incorrect — note the hilarious Gay or European? in Act 2, or the cynical Blood in the Water sung by the lecherous law professor Callahan (David Bethards) in Act 1 or even the spoof of the near-sacred Riverdance — but it's all done with such chutzpah that you can't help but burst out laughing.

That's in great part because of Brian Moran, who goes from being the trashy, good-for-nothing Dewey in one scene to the mincing pool boy Nikos in another to a gorgeously hunky, "walking porn" UPS delivery guy Kyle in the still another. (I had to double check it was the same man doing all three, just to be sure.) Talk about talent — this guy has it.

As always, Beth Phillips is a darling (remember her star turn as Billie Bendix in Nice Work If You Can Get It?) as Paulette, Elle's wise and wonderful hairdresser, who has just about given up on men until she meets Kyle. Mitchell Gonzalez creates a convincing cad as Warner, a nastily ambitious Harvard man who dumps Elle for the "more serious" Vivienne (played with appropriate snark by Brooke Stinnett), a fellow law school student he deems more worthy of himself. Jess Glass is a hoot as the spunky lesbian law student Enid, at first skeptical of Elle, then her fiercest champion.

Ryan Bintz gets a chance to show not only his acting skills, but his wonderful singing voice (Take It Like a Man, Chip on My Shoulder, Legally Blonde) as Emmett Forrest, Elle's law school pal, supporter, encourager and, eventually, No. 1 fellow. Molly Cook bursts with energy and life as fitness guru Brooke Wyndham, the murder suspect who poses as Elle's greatest challenge and victory.

Marvelous in supporting roles are Mark Lewis as Winthrop, the sputtering law school dean; Cody Farkas as the tie-dyed dancer Grandmaster Chad; and the trio of Kaela Moran, Megan Gillespie and Suzanne Meck as Elle's ever-faithful sorority sisters Margot, Serena and Pilar and her ever-helpful, imaginary Greek chorus that appears to lift her up whenever things get really tough for the Malibu girl turned courtroom fighter.

The continuing joy in the musical, however, is Romanski, as the upbeat, completely likable Elle, whose metamorphosis from seemingly air-headed boy's toy to a creative, perceptive and whip-smart attorney is a pleasure to watch. She can Bend and Snap with the best of 'em, then direct the Scene of the Crime like a seasoned pro, tossing her ice-blonde hair with zest and zeal. Her Elle is proud but not arrogant, sweet but not syrupy — in short, just right at every moment.

Special kudos to David Daly, who stepped in to play Elle's Dad (in addition to four other roles) when the original actor was taken to the hospital just before opening night.

And here's hoping Paulette's mic problem is cleared up (one near the mouth, not on the forehead, please) so that her "Where are they now" explanation at the end of the show comes through clearly, because it's one of the most hilariously surprising parts of the whole thing.

>>if you go

Legally Blonde, a musical, at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey, through May 28. Shows are at 8 p.m. May 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 and at 2:30 p.m. May 14, 21 and 28. Tickets are $18, reserved seating. Call (727) 842-6777 or at the box office from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show.

Review: Even adorable dogs can't upstage the high-energy cast of 'Legally Blonde' at Richey Suncoast Theatre 05/13/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 5:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.

    Travel

    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  2. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game

    Attractions

    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]
  3. Until this song, Alan Parsons Project stood on much higher ground

    Blogs

    Listening to yesterday's Keats song made me pine for more Alan Parsons Project music and today we dig deeper into their catalogue with Standing On Higher Ground.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 23

    Events

    Marie Antoinette: Freefall 411: A contemporary look at the historic pariah looks at Marie Antoinette through the lens of society's obsession with celebrity. Through August 13. A brief talk prior to the performance provides insight to the production. 1 p.m., show starts at 2 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central …

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, left, and Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette in Freefall Theatre's "Marie Antoinette."
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 22

    Events

    Snooty the Manatee's 69th Birthday Bash: Snooty, documented by Guinness World Records as the oldest known manatee in captivity, turns 69 and celebrates with children's games, art activities, cookies, drinks , interaction with Snooty the mascot and reduced price museum admission. 10 a.m., South Florida Museum, 201 …

    Snooty the manatee poses for a photo Thursday morning while three young manatees are unloaded from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Thursday morning at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com 12/20/07