From left, Rachel Greenblatt, Brittany Lacey, Jenna Kavaler and Amanda Geraci in a scene from ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Michael Tessler

“Legally Blonde” is the sort of film I’d usually enjoy bundled up in a blanket on a cold winter day, perhaps while digging into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, laughing loudly to myself. And yet Saturday night at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson I found myself sharing in that same wholesome joy surrounded by hundreds of others equally filled with laughter and milewide smiles. “Legally Blonde: The Musical” doesn’t shy away from its film roots but rather embraces them, incorporating songs and themes that deliver the story like never before!

Jeffrey Sanzel, the show’s director, continues to demonstrate a mastery of theater worthy of Broadway or the West End. This is not a compliment I deliver lightly, but it is so rightfully deserved. His ability to transcend genre and create flawless spectacles of comedy, drama, music and dance have stunned me continuously through the many shows I’ve now reviewed. Not once have I left the theater’s Athena Hall without being uplifted or captivated by the raw, genuine emotions neatly packed within the confines of a Theatre Three production.

Brittany Lacey as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Photo by Brian Hoerger
Brittany Lacey as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Photo by Brian Hoerger

“Legally Blonde,” while a light-hearted romp, was certainly no exception to that rule. After a long and difficult week I found myself leaving the theater feeling lighter than air. Not even for a moment is the beautiful illusion of theater ruined, undoubtedly because of Sanzel’s magic touch. His actors are so well-paced, so well-trained, a truly regimented troupe of thespians. Their stage comes to life.

Our protagonist is the stuff of “Greek” legend, and by that I mean she’s the president of the Delta Nu sorority at UCLA. Elle Woods, your quintessential popular blonde stereotype, is awaiting an overdue dinner with her longtime college boyfriend (played with lovable arrogance by Chris Brady) whom she expects to propose. Hilarity ensues as quite the opposite happens. Without spoiling too much, Elle begins on an unlikely adventure to Harvard Law School, a place not exactly known to be fashion forward!

This show is filled to the brim with comedic caricatures playing on our preconceived notions in a delightful way. From the hunky UPS man played to comedic perfection by Kyle Breitenbach to the rude, snobby, love-to-hate law student Vivienne Kensington played impressively by Caitlin Nofi, to the “blood in the water” lawyer Professor Callahan played by Theatre Three veteran Steve McCoy.

Brittany Lacey and Brett Chizever in a scene from 'Legally Blonde: The Musical' byPhoto by Brian Hoerger
Brittany Lacey and Brett Chizever in a scene from ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ byPhoto by Brian Hoerger

At the show’s center is actress Brittany Lacey. Her performance as Elle Woods is local theater at its finest. Her voice both powerful and soft, her delivery of lines so expressive and authentic, and most impressively her ability to dance in flawless precision while belting notes that require two and a half lungs. Many times throughout the production, I wondered if the show’s original writers had somehow met Lacey and based the show’s protagonist after her. Casting could not have been better. She’s accompanied by the awkwardly lovable Emmett played with a special tenderness by Brett Chizever. Before the show’s end you’ll love these two!

Randall Parsons has built a set of simplistic brilliance, the entire stage enclosed by an ever-changing border of glowing lights complemented perfectly with Robert W. Henderson’s lighting design. Shining in the spotlight is the brightest pinks I’ve ever seen with gorgeous costumes by Su Jung Weaver. All these elements are coordinated seamlessly by stage manager Peter Casdia. Jeffrey Hoffman, the show’s musical director, expertly leads a “Greek” chorus and a cast of superb vocal talents. From the show’s opening number, “Omigod You Guys,” to the more touching “Ireland” it seems there was not a mark to be missed! Don’t miss out on seeing this show. I guarantee it’ll take a “chip off your shoulder!”

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson kicks off its 47th Mainstage season with “Legally Blonde: The Musical” through Oct. 29. Tickets range from $20 to $35. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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