Legally Blonde
at Earl of March Secondary School

Reviewed on March 6, 2016

All Saints High School
Ottawa Citizen 1
All Saints High School
Ottawa Citizen 2
Mother Teresa High School
Ottawa Citizen 3
Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School
Ottawa Citizen 4
Elmwood School
Ottawa Citizen 5
A. Y. Jackson Secondary School
Ottawa Citizen 6

Erica Brandao
All Saints High School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 1

Toss out last year's movie tickets, and say "hello" to this year's Legally Blonde Musical, performed beautifully by the students of Earl of March Secondary School. Armed with next week's vogue magazines, a smidge of Calvin Klein perfume, and a reference letter from Oprah, Legally Blonde depicts an inspiring journey of self-discovery, as a naïve UCLA sorority girl– with a penchant for pink, works her way to becoming Harvard's most brilliant law student.

Based on the novel by Amanda Brown, this musical adaptation follows Miss "pretty-in-pink" Elle Woods, as she strives to win back her almost-fiancé's heart, by following him to Harvard Law School, hence proving to him that she is more than just any old, dumb blond with no brains. With the help of some quirky characters, unexpected friends, and a handsomely supportive attorney's assistant, Elle ultimately discovers her own inner strength, while finding the true meaning behind helping others through the power of Law.

Cast as the upbeat protagonist Elle Woods, Emily Poulsen brought forth an undeniably genial performance with her radiant smile, while revealing surprising vulnerability in her character, who elicits encouragement from all those she meets. Along with a clear, beautifully harmonized voice, Emily naturally showed Elle's transformation from simple sorority queen, to strong willed "intellectual" with her candid expressions, and relatable tone. Likewise, Macrae Martin and Alex MacDonald both acted with genuine sincerity, playing opposing roles as the gentle, dependable Emmett, and shameless ex-boyfriend, Warner, respectively; who are both in pursuit of academic success under personal familial incentives.

Elisabeth Levin as the sweet, emotional Paulette, and rather comedic hairdresser, showed Elle the soothing hospitality of the Irish, in her powerful performance of "Ireland". In stark contrast, James Mackey exuded supreme sourness through his role as the condescending Professor Callahan.

The ensemble worked like a well-oiled machine, with well-rehearsed choreography, and astonishing organisation. As unforgettably, the hilariously endearing Delta Nus sorority sisters portrayed just as much cast chemistry as expected of the lead actors, while Stewart Melville stole the show as the sexy UPS delivery man, Kyle.

Altogether, the musical carried with humorous consistency, and a positive enthusiasm achieved through the efforts of a tireless cast and crew, whilst further enhanced by the impressively coordinated music, provided live by the EOM Pit Band. The character's diverse and pleasantly aesthetic costumes were not only well made, but truly enriched each individual. This is particularly seen through Elle's subtle transition from a frivolously pink wardrobe, to more serious academic blue suits. Numerous set changes were accomplished with a polished efficiency which can only come with a great deal of practice. Sound and lighting cues were executed with notable precision, and the ingenious wardrobe changes performed onstage contributed to an overall seamless, and highly enjoyable production.

Altogether an elegantly conducted performance, Earl of March's Legally Blonde demonstrated that sometimes, with an unyielding will to never give in, and a healthy dose of girl power, who knows what the future may hold.

^ top

Marco Cornejo
All Saints High School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 2

Harvard Law School is about as unlikely a place to find a Delta Nu as a second hand shop—or so you'd think! With well orchestrated musical sequences and choreography, Earl of March's rendition of Legally Blonde stayed true to its lesson; achievement is only limited by one's ambition!

The musical—based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the M. G. Mayer motion picture—chronicles the story of sorority president Elle Woods (Emily Poulsen), who leaves behind her Malibu lifestyle and enrols into Harvard Law to pursue her ex-boyfriend Warner (Alex MacDonald). Sporting her best pink, she steps into a world much bigger than she had expected, falling in love with helping others through law practice, and learning to stay true to herself along the way.

The cast did a competent job in portraying their roles, and lines were delivered efficiently and clearly. Musical numbers were high points in terms of vivacity and commitment. Elisabeth Levin, as Paulette, stole the show during her phenomenal performance of "Ireland" and its consecutive reprise. Through a combination of her masterful singing and unparalleled energy, she did the spotlight justice and crafted a believable and relatable character. She stood out once more during her participation in the numbers "Bend and Snap", and "Find My Way/Finale". The chorus showed true endurance and passion during their rendition of "Whipped Into Shape", where they had to sing their parts while skipping rope and partaking in an intricate choreography.

The production displayed a rare assortment of over two hundred costume pieces—designed and managed by Aliza Iskovitch, Akhila Rao and Juliana Bui—which aided in character development. The Delta Nus wore clothes complimentary in colour and style, yet unique to each member of ensemble, respecting their characters. Elle's wardrobe progressed as she did, but reflected the character's fashion-oriented personality throughout the play. The right atmosphere was set for each scene with meticulous lighting scheme, adding emotional value to each scene and honoring the characters and relationships on stage.

The dedication put in by cast and crew of Earl of March's Legally Blonde really showed during their final performance, and as it turns out, it looks great in pink!

^ top

Sarah Priscus
Mother Teresa High School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 3

It is said that people will do nearly anything for love - including, in Elle Woods' case, abandon her Malibu lifestyle and pursue an uppity ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School. Her journey, in search of both him and her own identity, was expertly presented by Earl of March Secondary School in their uproarious production of Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde was originally a novel by Amanda Brown, but is perhaps better known as the sunny 2001 comedy film of the same name. Adapted for the stage by Laurence O'Keefe, Nell Benjamin, and Heather Hach, it premiered on Broadway in 2007. Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods (Emily Poulsen), a fashion-conscious sorority girl who is broken up with by her long-time boyfriend, Warner (Alex MacDonald), because she is not "serious" enough. Devastated and desperate to prove herself, Elle studies hard and makes it into Harvard Law, all in pursuit of Warner. However, Harvard isn't as easy as Elle had imagined - she is constantly underestimated because of her Barbie-doll looks. The show follows her in her quest to prove that she can surpass any stereotypes and exceed all expectations.

Skilful and sparkling, every aspect of Earl of March Secondary School's production contributed to an entirely enjoyable show. The cast demonstrated passion and powerful vocal ability, with specific ensembles like the Greek Chorus and the Harvard students especially impressing.

Emily Poulsen was all bright eyes and beaming smiles as the effervescent Elle Woods. Her ability for emotional development was unmatched, as she effortlessly balanced her peppy personality with moments of genuine vulnerability. Poulsen's interactions with her fellow cast members were entirely believable, especially those with her friend-turned-fiance, Emmett, played by the amiable Macrae Martin. Martin captured his character's steadfast, sensitive spirit through his excellent projection and sincere delivery of lines.

As Paulette, Elisabeth Levin was lively and exceedingly likable, with her broad gestures and soaring vocals always astounding. Alex MacDonald as Warner was completely committed to his character's pompous persona and often drew attention to himself through the use of exaggerated expressions. As the fiery feminist Enid, Maggie German could always be counted on for clever comedic timing and devoted physicality. Stewart Melville, as the self-assured, smooth-talking Kyle had the audience laughing with every line he spoke. James Mackey played the lecherous law professor Callahan with conviction, and Jessica Fisher was the pinnacle of prim as Vivienne.

The proficient production team created the saturated, stunning world of Legally Blonde with ease. The lighting crew near-professionally illuminated the stage with steady spotlights, glowing Christmas lights, and spinning projections without ever missing a cue. The detailed, diverse sets provided a subtle backdrop to the vibrancy onstage, and were moved near-silently by the skilled stage crew. The Earl of March Pit Band provided musical accompaniment to twenty songs and capably emulated a number of musical styles. Despite a few minor audio glitches, the cast and crew carried on with competence to deliver a sweet, satisfying show.

Elle might have journeyed to Harvard in search of her lost love, but she left having found herself. Through bouncy comedy and abundant heart, Earl of March Secondary School's production of Legally Blonde proved that, as explained in the final scene, "being true to yourself never goes out of style."

^ top

Francisca Leonardo
Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 4

Harvard Law has never been more in style now that Elle Woods has arrived. Ready to fight for love, Ms. Woods uses all her smarts and beauty weaponry to prove to everyone that she has the courage to become Harvard's most diligent (and fashionable) lawyer. Earl of March's production of Legally Blonde perfectly reflected the empowering message behind this story.

This hilarious musical follows the journey of Elle Woods, a naive sorority president who goes to any length to win back the interest of her ex-boyfriend, Warner, chasing him to study law at Harvard University. Once there, she must deal with more than a few split ends. Through a handful of challenges, Elle's positive attitude remains unwavering as she turns into the astute woman no one would have expected. Legally Blonde: The Musical first premiered in 2007, after the 2001 motion picture and the novel by Amanda Brown. With lyrics and music composed by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and book by Heather Hach, this modern classic on female power through self-belief is a true testament that appearances ought not to ever define someone's character.

Outstandingly elaborate in detail were sets like Elle's bedroom and Paulette's hair salon. Furthermore, the stage crew impressed with their seemingly smooth movement of large set pieces on stage, executing nearly thirty different set changes. Regarding costume design, Elle's pink lawyer suit dress was created with remarkable artistry by Juliana Boi, who was additionally in charge of over 200 character-suiting costumes.

Emily Poulsen, as the confident Elle Woods, embraced her character's essence to the fullest. Poulsen captured Elle's mannerisms and comical facial expressions in every scene, adding to her harmonious vocal performance. She masterfully portrayed Elle's array of emotions, evoking warmth toward her likable character in particular during the song 'Legally Blonde'. Portraying the driven Emmett was Macrae Martin. Martin's powerful voice projection and charming demeanour were notable in Chip on My Shoulder, where he made Emmett's honourable nature stand out the most.

'Bend and Snap' was humorously memorable due to the performances of Elisabeth Levin (Paulette) and Stewart Melville (Kyle), whose quirky interaction undeniably resulted from a meticulous characterization on the actors' parts. Additionally, Michael Edgar portrayed the flamboyant boyfriend of Nikos with striking physicality in his brief appearance in 'There! Right there!'

The choreography was rhythmically synchronized despite the sheer amount of ensemble numbers. Particularly noteworthy was Lucas Granzotto-Martin, a featured dancer, who skillfully did a breakdance routine in 'What You Want'.

The sound crew competently managed 18 microphones and had great timing on their cues, such as the one where Elle takes a picture with her cellphone. Pink lighting was exceptionally well-employed to shadow the Greek Chorus when Elle was visualizing them inside her head.

Despite the incredible challenges that such an intricate musical was sure to pose, Earl of March Secondary School surpassed all expectations on their rendition of Legally Blonde, in big part due to the tangible commitment of its cast and crew.

^ top

Emma Hunter
Elmwood School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 5

Can a stereotypical blonde fit into the classrooms of Harvard? This question was asked and answered in Earl of March Secondary School's impressive production of Legally Blonde.

Based off of the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie, the musical Legally Blonde follows Elle Woods, a Malibu-born sorority sister of UCLA's Delta Nu, as she attends Harvard Law School in an attempt to win back the love of her ex-boyfriend, the pampered Warner. While studying law, surrounded by the black, white and brown tweeds of her classmates, Elle eventually comes to the realization that she can find success while still holding onto the pink parts of her personality.

Earl of March's rendition of the musical was effortlessly engaging, with each musical number flawlessly executed. The cast's complete dedication to their roles made each performance unique and entertaining.

Emily Poulsen led the show as the delightfully bubbly Elle. She flawlessly portrayed the character's transition from exuberant fashion student ready to chase her love to Harvard, to an energetic yet repressed law student, to a mature lawyer, confident in herself and her abilities. Her impressive vocals were showcased in songs such as "Oh My God", and "Legally Blonde".

Portraying Elle's quirky friend Paulette, Elizabeth Levin brought a sensitive touch to the character. Alongside, Stewart Melville played Paulette's love interest Kyle, a UPS deliveryman. His distinctive voice, paired with comedic physical acting, created a thoroughly amusing character. Alex MacDonald was a perfectly spoiled Warner, who displayed his admirable vocal abilities while still portraying all of his character's flaws. Even while he was not in action, he continued to act whenever he was onstage, with actions and facial expressions loyal to his character. The chorus of Delta Nu sorority sisters was always cheerful to the scene, performing with high energy throughout the entire production. While some performers had trouble with intonation, they always managed to quickly correct themselves, and continue with theirs songs.

Tying the songs together was the choreography, organized by Emily Huang, Macrae Martin and Holly Brule. Incorporating different styles of dance, such as an Irish style in the song "Ireland", and sometimes using props, the choreography added a level of complexity to the performance. The lighting, designed by Torin Zaugg, was subtle at times and elaborate at others, but always served to enhance the mood of the scene. The pit band supported the production and transitioned easily between numbers, maintaining energy throughout the whole performance.

With spirit and entertaining presentation from every cast and crew member, Earl of March Secondary School's Legally Blonde was a light-hearted presentation, that brought out the best elements of the musical.

^ top

Jacob Crocker
A. Y. Jackson Secondary School

Submitted for publication to Ottawa Citizen 6

A courtroom is a place of order, a place of structure, filled with dull men in black suits and wooden stands. The last place on Earth you'd think to find... pink. Bright pink. In Earl of March's production of Legally Blonde, a little bit of colour goes a long way towards brightening up a boring day.

Based on Amanda Brown's novel of the same name, Legally Blonde stars young sorority girl Elle Woods, lover of everything pink, as she vies for the attention of her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington. After Warner breaks up with her, on the grounds that he needs a more "serious" woman, Elle decides to follow Warner to Harvard Law and prove to him that she's more than just a dumb blonde. Encouraged by her sorority, the Delta Nus, and the many law students she meets along the way, Elle struggles to find her own place in the legal world.

Presenting a well known and acclaimed musical is a daunting task, one which the talented cast and crew of Earl of March faced earnestly. The production maintained an excellent pace from start to finish, leading the audience smoothly from song to song. The set and costumes were both stylish and functional, utilizing bright pink to highlight Elle's influence on her surroundings and drab yellows and browns to represent the studious law school atmosphere. The happenings on stage were accompanied admirably by the Earl of March Pit Band, supporting the cast with enthusiasm without being overpowering.

Emily Poulsen was bubbly and amicable in the role of Elle, letting some of the character's sadness and frustration leak through her sorority girl persona. While her light and airy voice was sometimes overpowered by other vocalists, including the talented Delta Nus chorus, it suited the character to a tee and made for pleasant listening in her solo performances.

With a charming smile and a voice to match, Alex MacDonald nailed his role as the pretty boy Warner. Likewise, Macrae Martin was incredibly relatable in his role as Emmett. Though he sometimes struggled to hit the high notes, his obvious chemistry with his peers more than made up for it. Unafraid of dominating the stage with her powerful voice, Elisabeth Levin was an exemplary performer in the role of Paulette, hitting all the highs and lows of "Ireland" and making it look easy.

The adept cast was supported quietly by the stage crew, maneuvering the props and set in perfect synchronization overseen by the stage manager, Meera Nagpal. While the first act was plagued by frequent mic issues, the sound team was quick to fix any dead mics before the second act rolled around, and the audio quality was consistent throughout.

With solid vocals and a dedicated crew, Earl of March's Legally Blonde proved that no matter what kind of life you lead, you can always toss in your very own shade of pink to spice things up.

^ top