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Queens Chronicle

Like, OMG! It’s ‘Legally Blonde: the Musical!’

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am

Need an energy boost? A visit to the FSF Community Theatre Group’s production of “Legally Blonde: the Musical” might be the solution, thanks to nearly three dozen singing and dancing performers who take over the stage with more than enough pep to spare!

By now the story — slight though it may be — is fairly well-known, from the novel and the popular movie that served as the show’s inspiration.

The cute, blonde president of the Delta Nu sorority, Elle Woods, is about to become engaged to a young man named Warner, when the Harvard Law School-bound college student abruptly dumps her. Elle is understandably devastated and devises a plan to win him back.

Simplistic? Yes! Entertaining? Judging from the opening day audience reaction, most definitely!

The current cast, under the direction of the theater group’s long-standing artistic director Maryellen Pierce, works hard to get the most out of the material, which includes generally innocuous music and often feeble lyrics.

As Elle, surely one of the more demanding female leads in musical theater, Brittany Juilfs is on stage almost constantly, singing over a dozen songs in a pleasant if not powerhouse voice and dancing with apparent ease.

Her new love interest, Emmett, is played by the talented Paul Regan, who has been performing with FSF since age 12 and now finds himself a full-fledged leading man.

Juilfs and Regan have good chemistry together and are particularly effective during their twin musical soliloquies that comprise the show’s title number.

While the second act is a vast improvement over the first, there’s a moment shortly before intermission when the show explodes. It comes courtesy of Amanda Doria, who, in the supporting role of Elle’s hairdresser, threatens to steal the whole shebang every time she appears.

Doria turns her big number, “Ireland,” into a showstopper, as she milks every nuance out of the uncharacteristically humorous lyrics, sometimes with just a well-timed facial expression. And her voice could probably be heard on the other side of Flushing.

Elizabeth Bell, Liv Nicole and particularly Tanya Fiebert stand out as three of the sorority sisters.

Gene Ferrari is appropriately stuffy as the law professor with ulterior motives. Christian Barnes has the look and stiffness required for Warner. Dena Cinque as his new girlfriend, Vivienne, sings in a clear, strong voice. Britain Gebhardt, as a fitness guru with a dark secret leads a sweat-inducing “Whipped into Shape” routine.

Several cameo performances are among the most memorable: Nelson Rocha as a gay pool boy; Clarence Ilanan as his flamboyant other half; and Erik Neilssen as a UPS delivery man with a penchant for Irish dancing. Not to be overlooked are two performers with a combined eight legs, Nugget and Tucker Shakes, as a pair of vastly different pooches.

The show’s energy and humor reach their combined pinnacle during “Bend and Snap,” a highlight that comes in the middle of the show’s second half. It’s followed by another peak moment, a big production number called “There! Right There!,” which takes place in the unlikely setting of a courtroom.

Musical director Paul Johnson and his fine combo keep the music coming loud and fast throughout. Choreographer David Arzberger has put his dancers through their energetic paces, and whether doing a jig, a jump-rope workout, or some hip-hop, they give it their all.

Costume designer Pauline Baratta whipped up a wide variety of outfits for the large cast. A few technical glitches on opening day will likely be ironed out for upcoming performances.

‘Legally Blonde: the Musical’

When: Nov. 9 and 16 at 8 p.m., Nov. 10 and 17 at 3 p.m.

Where: Free Synagogue of Flushing, 41-60 Kissena Blvd.

Tickets: $18, $15 for seniors 61 and over and children 10 and under

(718) 428-8681

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