Buxom, Barely-‘Legally Blonde’

Oh my god, you guys. Is it possible? Are you for real? Who would have thought that “Legally Blonde: The Musical” — now playing at The Palace Theater on Broadway without the sprightly genius of Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon — could be just as funny, enjoyable and surprisingly poignant as the movie upon which it is based?

In “Legally Blonde,” the 2001 sleeper-hit movie that catapulted Witherspoon to A-list status, there’s never a dull moment. Sure, it’s ditzy, glitzy, Valley Girl fun — but (arguably because of Witherspoon) the film, for those open-minded enough to care, is oddly resonant on sub-highlights levels. In the musical version, the multi-hued silliness is given an added dose of high-kicking, high-note-belting cocaine, creating a spectacle worthy of its home in the Palace Theater.

Laura Bell Bundy (formerly Glinda in Broadway’s “Wicked”) plays Delta Nu sorority princess Elle Woods, a sociable, beautiful, fun-loving debutante gracefully equipped with Kelly Ripa’s giddy charm and Sarah Jessica Parker’s eye for haute couture. And yes, pink is her “signature color” — so don’t expect to her to wear any thing else the night she’s expecting a marriage proposal from Baldwin-esque beau, Warner Huntington III. But when Warner turns the tables and dumps her in favor of a more “serious” future at Harvard Law, the crestfallen Elle — thanks to an inspirational “Greek chorus” of Delta Nu sweet tarts — sets her sights on following Warner to the Ivy-laced, red-brick walls in Cambridge, Mass. She isn’t even discouraged by her father’s insightful claim that “Law School is for boring, ugly, serious people” — all things that Elle certainly is not.

Stepping out of Witherspoon’s looming shadow, Bundy fills Elle’s stiletto pumps with pristine perfection and lets her own light sparkle. There are some well-rehearsed imitations — like the prissy, crisp, nails-out trot invented by Witherspoon — but Bundy would convince any “Blonde” virgin that the role had always been hers.

A supporting cast of top-notch singers, dancers and comedians compliments Bundy’s effervescence like a bubble skirt to a tiny waist. In particular, Orfeh as hopeless romantic hairdresser Paulette and Michael Rupert as Professor Callaghan are hilarious substitutes for Jennifer Coolidge and Victor Garber. But the most crowd-pleasing cast members are also the shortest: a straw-colored Chihuahua who plays Bruiser Woods and an adorably chubby bulldog playing Paulette’s Rufus. New Yorkers (especially the ones you’d expect to see at “Legally Blonde: The Musical”) love their canines, and it shows from the way the audience reacts to the puppies’ performances.

The most impressive part of the musical that the film definitely lacks is the exciting, fire-cracker choreography, from Elle’s marching-band “admissions essay” to an impromptu Irish river dance to the wish-fulfilling “Bend & Snap” ensemble in Act Two. Also, the set-design is deluxe, Broadway Musical spectacular, dynamically and seamlessly morphing from sorority house to candle-lit terrace in a matter of seconds.

The music itself is appropriately fun, if altogether forgettable. Not the kind of soundtrack that prompts downloading and repeated late-night sing-a-longs, but catchy and foot-stomping enough to move the story along. The opening bit, called “Omigod you guys,” rhymes words together like any old Bard — albeit within a high-speed-dubbing, Alvin & The Chipmunks chord structure that, were one to encounter it, say, in a nice restaurant, would be ear-splitting. Other numbers aren’t good songs, really — just fun comedic stunts — like the “Is He Gay … or European?” courtroom piece.

The script, actually adapted from the novel “Legally Blonde” by Amanda Brown, matches about three-quarters word-for-word with the movie. There are a few divergences from the film script and a few added scenes to provide more, um, logical excuses for musical numbers — but nothing too aggravating. Indeed, sometimes it’s the anticipation of how the musical will use or reinvent a familiar line from the film that adds to the show’s appeal.

Another thing the musical thankfully shares with the movie is its heartfelt, even cheesy message: We are each given a unique opportunity and shouldn’t waste our time on lost causes when we could be making the most of it.

But no worries, “Legally Blonde The Musical” isn’t too preachy. Didactic lectures are for real law students — you know, those “boring, ugly, serious people” — so the show generally sticks to the fun, pretty, carefree side of life, and we love every minute of it.

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