Grand Rapids Civic Goes Blonde

Legally Blonde – the Musical
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
June 1-2, 5-9, 12-16; show times at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
$16-34, (616) 222-6650

A big personality is coming to the Grand Rapids Civic, and she's bold, beautiful and blond — very blonde. 

Devoted slave to everything pretty, pricey and pink, Legally Blonde's Elle Woods is a celebratory spoof of all things young and girly. Accessorized by catchy pop tunes, bubblegum-colored sets and a divalicious Chihuahua, Elle couldn't be happier with her life as a sorority queen bee. When Elle's boyfriend dumps her for a 'more serious' girlfriend, however, Elle enrolls at Harvard Law ready to prove there's more to her than the designer bag she carries.

"It really is a story about diversity," Director Bruce Tinker said. "It's as much about diversity of individuals as diversity of perception and not defining individuals by visual information. Elle is a bright, sharp person; although visual information tells you otherwise. The story does a great job taking us back to the fact that it's not just the people who wear glasses and knee highs who are serious. Everyone is serious. We should be open and accept people because of their mind and heart, not because of what's immediately visible."

For actress Breighanna Minnema, who plays Elle, the character is also noteworthy for her determination and self-belief.

"Elle really is a role model," Minnema said. "She's not only super stylish and beautiful, but she works hard and is really confident in herself ... She is constantly put down by other people, but all along she believes in herself and never loses herself."

The heroine's plucky spirit and optimism is boosted throughout the play by an upbeat soundtrack, which further illuminates Elle's character and charges scenes with energy and youthfulness.

"The live music has tremendous impact. It's a terrific score and it tells a lot about the story and what the characters are really feeling and thinking," Tinker said. "It allows characters like Elle to bust out and have fun."

The arguable fan favorite is the sassy "Bend and Snap," in which Elle shows a washed-up divorcee a move supposedly 99.99 percent effective on straight men. In addition to displaying Elle's goofy good-heartedness, the song becomes an anthem for feminine wiles and sheer girlish exuberance.

"Definitely one of my favorite scenes is when Elle and her sorority friends teach the 'Bend and Snap.' It's really fun—we bring the cast in and just groove out," Minnema said. "The music in the background is so great and everyone feels really fun and really sexy, and it's a fun time for the audience too."

Whether belting out showstoppers, dishing pertinent fashion advice or proving her own resolve, Elle Woods makes Legally Blonde both irresistibly entertaining and socially relevant.

"[The show is] about believing in others and yourself, not judging a book by its cover and seeing there is more underneath someone than maybe their blond hair ... It will be funny and pink and loud and wonderful," Minnema said.

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