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Review by Vince Mediaa

The incomparable blonde Elle Woods and her dog Bruiser cheerfully open the inaugural First season of Tri Valley Theatre Company, in Livermore Ca. LEGALLY BLONDE the musical is filled with valley girls and bubblegum songs, it’s a guilty-pleasure production that, under the bleach-blonde wigs and explosion of pink, playfully reminds audiences that “being true to yourself” never goes out of style. Producer Artistic Director Brian Olkowski successfully rebooted the Tri Valley Rep to TVTC “now we start this third act of the newly named company/ thank you as we embark on this next journey.” Director Misty Megia worked with an energized 40 member cast including two live dogs. She says the concept for the “dumb blond” portrayed on stage goes back 250 years “This musical has always challenged the idea that someone can be kind, beautiful and smart.”

The 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon has been adapted for the stage, infused with music and dance, with book by Heather Hach and music very pop-catchy by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. TVTC's production of LEGALLY BLONDE the Musical is bright and pop and a lot of fun. From the moment the talented cast enters the stage, the audience is constantly entertained, laughing, and having fun. The opening number “Omigod You Guys” was a bit off but the energy was genZ fresh. Music director Jed da Roza had a major task of working with 38 voices and a chorus of sorority girls that needed some tweaking after a long tech week. The lively Gwynnevere Cristobal enters center stage as Elle Woods to cheers and is dressed in Pink. She brightens the chorus of sorority girls as she joins them in “Omigod”, the show's banner song. 

Elle Woods is a UCLA Delta Nu sorority girl-turned Harvard Law student. Elle, played by Cristobal, delivers a strong performance leaving behind the airhead voice, while giving perfect timing to her many zingers “all masturbatory sperm not seeking an egg could be called reckless abandonment.” 

Elle’s dog Bruiser Wood enters the first scene and steals the moment to the cheers of the sold out opening night audience. Bruiser is played by pro paw Tico and is later joined by Rufus played by Nessarose. 

Director Megia kept Elle strong and clever, a different pitch I have seen from other productions of this musical. Cristobal is phenomenal as Elle with her earnest and heartfelt portrayal of the character. She does an incredible job of making the audience care, feel, and root for her to succeed. She has a stunningly beautiful voice - her solo “So Much Better” was goosebump-inducing and incredibly powerful. She is the definition of a triple threat - excellently demonstrating her acting, singing, and dancing skills throughout the two and a half hour show.

The terrific Tommy Lassiter is geeky adorable as Emmett Forrest, who the audience cannot help but like. He has great stage presence, talented acting, and a solid singing voice. The comedic and endearing interactions between Cristobal and Lassiter in “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Take It Like a Man” are enough reasons to see the show, but the pair also sing beautifully together especially in the shows title number. The blending of their voices is soothing and the emotions that go into their song "Legally Blonde" makes it stand out and one of the best numbers in this production.

The other featured male role is Warner, played by the capable Alexander Kolm, Elle’s first boyfriend who she chases to Harvard University. Kolm sings “Serious” with Cristobal and shows off his keen tenor voice. 

The superb Kinsey Erin makes the perfect Vivienne Kensington Warner's new girlfriend - with her snobbish ways at the beginning, she grows into a likable character by the end, which makes her character trajectory one to watch. She has a fantastic voice that sadly the audience does not get to hear a lot of until one of the final numbers, "Legally Blonde Remix," but it is definitely worth the wait to hear her sing and hit that glorious high note with so much sass and conviction.

Another stand out performance is Andrea Rae as Paulette Bonafonte the hairdresser. She has a soulful singing voice, great acting, perfect comedic timing, and a strong stage presence. Her two songs “Ireland” and “Bend and Snap” prove Rae’s flawless talent. Choreographer Cat Delos Santos Reyes creates the perfect pop and hip dance for “Bend and Snap” that also features Elle and the Salonfolks featuring Ronnie La. 

The riveting local favorite Ray D’Ambrosio reprises his role as the villain of sorts Professor Callahan and is dapper and arrogant as the pompous Lawyer. I have seen his Callahan at Hillbarn Theatre. The impressive Shelly McDowell plays Brooke the body fitness instructor on trail, she is sassy and fun to watch on stage. The fitness number “Whipped Into Shape” is a calisthenics celebration romp created by Delos Santos.

The cast is full of featured performances including the solid Paul Plain as Ellie’s father and Ji-Yun Kim as Mrs Woods. The crowd favorite Emma Marie Wall, who plays the feminist law student Enid. Wall's quirky awkwardness that she brings to the character makes her unforgettable. She is a joy to watch on stage.

During the second act - the court room is full of fun and laughs that include the accomplished Nico Jaochico as Nikos the pool boy. He romps the Blankhead stage as the company sings “Is he Gay or European” in the number “There Right There”. Jaochico uses the perfect body language and fluid moves in a show stopping comic performance. Alongside the polished Leo Diaz as Carlos, his dance partner and boyfriend. Their smooth staging and movement by assistant director Christine Lazo. Also a highlight in court is the genuine Rachelle King as the judge and Heidi Amstrup as the DA.

The production craft team is exceptional with the creative use of space on the large Bankhead stage. Local favorite Scenic Designer Thomas Curtin keeps the setting simple and lets the actors shine and bring UCLA, Harvard, and the Beauty shop to life. Stage managers Brian Olkowski, A.J.Amstrup and Nicole Blair worked with a busy 38 member cast that included swift scene and costume changes. The talented prop master Keith Thompson included courtroom needs, jump ropes and golf clubs for Dad Woods. 

The costumes are influenced by various shades of pink and are expertly designed by Andrea Gorham-Browne. She brings a pretty 90s-inspired look to the UCLA sorority girls and that preppy Ivy League feel to the Harvard characters. The wigs by Emma Marie well by Gorham's wardrobe. The music direction under Jed de Roza is stunning as the leads are always on pitch and the splendid eight member orchestra in the pit brings so much energy that each note played was felt by the audience. The sound by Alex Edwards is on cue and the lighting design by Erica Hutzenger is bright with the scrim backdrop setting the pink mood of the show.

Huge shout out goes to the two scene-stealing pets in the show Tico and Nessarose wrangled by Andrea Tripp and Bryan Riggs-Thomson. 

LEGALLY BLONDE the Musical is very busy with large chorus numbers and this production will raise your spirits. The harmonies during the songs and impressive dance movements as a group are eye candy the ensemble deserves to be recognized. With an underlying message about the importance of overcoming stereotypes, there are no dumb blondes in this version. This fun musical is not a complete no-brainer, but is overall a lighthearted story intended to prove self-acceptance is love and friendship. Major snaps to TVCT fabulous first musical production - a perfect way to open and celebrate the opening of the 2024 theatre season. THE MUSIC MAN will be their second production that opens this summer July 13th. But in the meantime only a few seats remain for this show and remember to bring your own University pompoms.

Tri-Valley Theatre Company Presents

Legally Blonde The Musical

Book by Heather Hach and by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin

Directed by Misty Megia

Assistant Director Christina Lazo

Vocal and Musical Vocal Direction by Jed de Roza

Choreography by Cat Delos Santos Reyes

Artistic Director Brian Olkowski

Producers Glen Riggs and Brian Olkowski

Must Close Jan 28, 2024

Bankhead Theatre 

2400 First Street, Livermore, CA 94550

Two Hours 30 minutes with a 15 min intermission

Tickets https://

Photos by Lilly Merritt and Austin Andrade, Tri-Valley Theatre Company’s Social Media Director


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