HillSide Story: Keep it positive

Graphic by Aiden Menchaca / The Tufts Daily

The world has gone off the rails, and so have we. This week we are switching it up and discussing a filmed musical theatre production instead of a traditional movie musical. Omigod you guys, it’s a free recording of a musical and it’s “Legally Blonde” (2007). Now, the story of Elle Woods can be quite misleading. A fashion merchandising major and sorority president decides in her senior spring that, after her boyfriend breaks up with her, she will just get into Harvard Law School. And the admissions officers will let her in because love is just that strong. While we love that the message is about a strong woman finding her voice and proving her ability to be an independent force of nature, the idea that love can get you into Harvard Law is just not how real life works, and it is important that everyone understands that. Anyway, we would like to thank MTV for blessing us with a recording of this musical that is never taken off YouTube. It makes the world a better place.

Anna Hirshman (AH): This musical starts off on an excellent note (no pun intended). The first person to sing and appear on the screen is the woman I refer to as my namesake, Annaleigh Ashford (because my middle name is Leigh). She is an absolute shining star, and she knew Lady Gaga before any of us knew who she was. We all know Laura Bell Bundy, who plays Elle Woods, is amazing, so we are going to make sure to appreciate everyone else.

Allie Morgenstern (AM): And following one of the greatest opening numbers of all time, it is time for our weekly section of Allie’s second-hand embarrassment! When Warner sings the song “Serious” to Elle where he breaks up with her, I cannot help but cringe. It also just makes me think of how awkward the scene in the original movie is, where Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) squeals and yells at Warner, causing everyone else in the restaurant to stare at them. In both the film and the musical, Warner is a jerk when he breaks up with Elle. 

AH: Something about “Serious” is so catchy, though. It is not ideal for someone to call you tacky, but we all have our moments, right? He may not have gone about it with integrity, but it does make sense that Warner would break up with Elle. They are graduating college, they will be living across the country from one another and they have different career aspirations. Is Warner, dare I say, practical? And Emmett is better for Elle anyway. 

AM: Christian Borle. Incredible performance all around. A great, great Emmett: smart, nerdy and also handsome and just great for Elle. His song “Chip on My Shoulder” was never one of my favorites, but since I’ve now come to watch this several times with Anna, I have grown to really like it.

AH: Yes, Christian Borle is one of the greatest actors of his generation, but the most underappreciated person in this entire production is Kate Wetherhead. She plays the sorority sister who forces Elle to actually study for the LSAT and create a competitive application for Harvard. I love practicality. And she is Chutney. The first thing I’ll say is that Chutney is a food they talk about on the Food Network, not a person. But more importantly, the way Wetherhead chose to portray Chutney as so nasally and obnoxious is unmatched by many theatrical performances. She also rocks a perm. 

AM: Now let’s all take a second to acknowledge Kate Shindle’s incredible voice. She plays Vivian, the initial antagonist who ends up becoming Elle’s best friend. I feel like her performance can sometimes be underrated unless you’re paying close attention. In “Legally Blonde – Remix,” Shindle whips out insane notes, blessing us with the magic that is her singing voice. When I listen to the cast recording on my own, I usually replay this part over and over just to hear that huge note.

AH: The song that does it for me is “What You Want.” It is the best shower song, trust me. Not only does it boost your confidence significantly, but it is eight minutes long, has so many musical styles, and makes you believe in the power of love. And we get to hear Andy Karl rap!

AM: Well, I was SHOOK by the fact that Orfeh and Andy Karl were married in real life. She plays Paulette the nail technician and he plays the UPS guy that she falls in love with. Talk about a powerhouse theatre couple.

AH: It helps explain how easily they can convince me that they are in love in the show. I give major props to any couple who can spend all day together and then also work together in a Broadway show eight times a week. That’s the love this show should be celebrating. 

AM: On a separate note, the costume quick changes in this production are so great. Not only does Elle have many, many fabulous outfits, she also manages to change from one to the other as if it were magic. Usually, I feel like some productions can lose some of the authenticity when there are a lot of “gimmicks,” but I don’t really feel like any of the big, crazy numbers or costume changes, or anything like that take away from this musical at all. They just make it more fun!

AH: And now I would like to leave you with an Elle Woodsism that perhaps is most applicable at this moment. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill.” So, stand up, grab your jump rope and get whipped into shape. Or you can watch professional dancers do it in the video. Up to you.

AM: Anna and I watched this on our last night hanging out in person at Tufts, and it did, in fact, help to boost our moods a little bit. This movie is definitely a good way to get yourself up and out of a funk. So to finish off this column, here are my quarantine words of advice: If you’re feeling sad and need a pick me up, please try out this filmed musical. It is so full of fun, great songs, energetic dance numbers and talented actors, all of which will leave you with a smile on your face. 


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