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TBT shows ends summer season on a light note

August 9, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

Thunder Bay Theatre is ending its highly successful summer season on a fluffy, pink note.

With the romantic musical comedy, "Legally Blonde," long-time core company member Kendra McInerney strikes a saccharine-sweet blow against the stereotyping of misunderstood blondes everywhere. McInerney is adorable as the vulnerable spunky Valley Girl, Elle, whose signature color is pink and whose initial aspiration is to marry her UCLA college sweetheart.

After the boyfriend dumps her on his way to study law at Harvard University, Elle takes her cute little pup, her pink designer duds and her seemingly feather-weight ideals off to Cambridge, still in pursuit of a wedding ring around her finger.

The show, based on the 2001 MGM film of the same name, also is the final one at TBT for McInerney before she heads off this fall to Western Michigan University to study theatre. She's cut her teeth here in Alpena and over the years provided theatre patrons with a wide array of thoroughly entertaining characters, Elle very much among them.

The show is filled with many tunes, which unfortunately don't always hit the mark due to the varying vocal abilities of the cast. The cast is a dedicated lot, however, who brings a great deal of energy to the production and seems to engage the audience.

Things open up with Elle's stereotypical shallow sorority sisters giving it their all in "Omigod You Guys." They are giddily anticipating Elle's marriage proposal from the pretentious Warner, who instead lets her down over dinner and the song, "Serious." It turns out Warner, played by Stuart Richardson, wants to get serious about his studies and his future. After all, if he's going to be a senator, then he needs "less of a Marilyn, more of a Jackie," he tells her via song.

At first devastated, the proverbial bulb (halogen, please) goes off and Elle soon hatches a plan to follow Warner across country and get herself admitted into Harvard Law School. How this proves possible suspends disbelief, but that's half the fun of the show it's just a cotton candy-like pleasure.

At Harvard, Elle meets the social climbing Warner's new upgraded girlfriend, Vivienne (played by Tracie Papin) and learns that law school is harder than she expected. Along the way, she bonds with her diligent fellow classmate, Emmett (Mackenzie Fountain) and gains solace from her heart-of-gold hairstylist, Paulette (Nickie Hilton).

As a fellow TBT core company member of McInerney's, the talented Hilton gives an outstanding and humorous performance as Paulette. So too does core company actor Derek Spack. His part as the UPS delivery guy is small, but with his sense of comedy and his swagger, he makes it memorable.

Elle doesn't always impress her difficult law professor (Zach Clement), but she ultimately turns it around when she finds a way to successfully defend a fitness guru accused of murder. High school student Mariah Purol, who has appeared in several other TBT productions, gets her biggest part to date in "Legally Blonde" and does a great job, including on the jump-rope number, "Whipped Into Shape."

Also fun to watch are Hannah Matke, Alexy Suisse and Emily Szatkowski as a trio of Greek chorus members who accompany Elle during various stages of her transformation from wide-eyed innocent to principled legal eagle.

There is some fun choreography contained throughout the show. The overall set is a bit disappointing and doesn't make you think either UCLA or Harvard, although the set pieces wheeled on and off the stage for various scenes are interesting.

"Legally Blonde's" plot is improbable at its core, but highly suitable for a light summer evening of entertainment. While the show should have huge appeal for the teen set, parents should know there are a few adult lines (one song is built around the notion of "is he gay or European?") and some adult language.

Remaining performances are today through Aug. 19 with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 2 p.m Sunday. For reservations, call the TBT box office at 354-2267.



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