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Toby’s Dinner Theatre Legally Blonde (The Musical)

By • Jul 20th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Legally Blonde (The Musical)
Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Toby’s Dinner Theatre-Columbia, Columbia, MD
Through September 2nd
2:40 with intermission
$48-$53/$34.50 Children
Reviewed July 14th, 2012

“Omigod You Guys!” Elle Woods is at Toby’s in Columbia right now, and you do not want to miss it! This awesome new musical version of Legally Blonde is finally debuting on the local stage, and this is one of the first places that you can see this amazing show. Toby’s does serious justice to the amazing script and score by bringing together a top-notch cast with professional costumes and sets.

The story begins with Elle’s sorority sisters, led by Serena (Mary Kate Brouillet), Margot (Julia Lancione), and Pilar (Mary Searcy). The ladies, who will also appear as a “Greek chorus” throughout the show set the stage with high energy and powerful voices. Brouillet makes an especially strong showing in her role and really stands out with her acting and vocals. The girls are excited, because Elle (Jessica Lauren Ball) is about to get engaged. We then get to meet Elle, and Ball is everything that you could want in the role. From her first entrance, she is completely entrancing, and she only gets better as the show progresses. She has spot-on, beautiful vocals, a warm, realistic likeability, and endless energy and pep that never goes overboard to become annoying.

Unfortunately, her heart is quickly broken, when Warner (Austin VanDyke Colby) makes it clear that it is time to get “Serious,” which means he needs to find a Jackie to replace his Marilyn. Colby is excellent in the role, and actually finds a way to make the self-absorbed character almost likeable. In order to win back his heart, Elle decides that she too will get serious and follow Warner to Harvard Law.

At Harvard, Elle finds strong allies in Paulette (Priscilla Cuellar) and Emmett (Jeffrey Shankle). Cuellar is complete dynamic with fantastic comedic timing and unbelievably phenomenal vocals. Shankle is warm, likeable, and really shines in his role. Elle also encounters adversaries in the form of Warner’s new girlfriend, Vivienne (Beth Rayca) and the hard to please, proud to be a shark Professor Callahan (Lawrence B. Munsey). Rayca is a definite highlight in the show with an excellent portrayal of the snarky Vivienne, and it is especially delightful towards the end of the show when you finally get to hear her beautiful voice. Munsey, unfortunately, is the one low point in the show. He performs, rather than embodying a character. His “Blood in the Water” is campy rather than full of meat and snakelike charm. His delivery is stunted and he misses the nuances of this villain. It is an unfortunate, unbelievable performance in an otherwise letter-perfect production.

The client ultimately defended by Callahan, Emmett, Elle, Warner, Vivienne, and another student is Brooke Wyndham (Heather Marie Beck). Beck showing amazing physical stamina while jump-roping and singing her way through “Whipped into Shape.” Also standing out in featured roles are Adam Grabau and Moses Rodrigues. Both men take a few different character parts and really shine. Grabau is hilarious as Kyle. Rodrigues does an amazing job with his vocals as Grandmaster Chad, and then shows off his comedic acting chops as Carlos. Overall, the ensemble is strong and makes every moment count.

The choreography is mind-blowing. The costumes and set are perfect. The sound was fairly good with just a few balance kinks to work out. The lighting design is excellent; however, there were a few transition issues that left a few moments in the dark. However, these tiny technical flaws can easily be worked out as the show moves further in its run.

Overall, there is every possible reason to hurry and see this amazing production. Legally Blonde should be at the top of anyone’s list of shows to see this summer, and Toby’s of Columbia is the place to see it!

Cast

  • Elle Woods: Jessica Lauren Ball
  • Emmett Forrest: Jeffrey Shankle
  • Serena: Mary Kate Brouillet
  • Margot: Julia Lanclone
  • Pilar: Mary Searcy
  • Warner: Austin VanDyke Colby
  • Vivienne: Beth Rayca
  • Professor Callahan: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Paulette: Priscilla Cuellar
  • Brooke Wyndham: Heather Marie Beck
  • Enid/Ensemble: Jennie Lutz
  • Padaman/Nikos/Ensemble: David Gregory
  • Pilot/Aaron/Ensemble: Danny Tippett
  • Kate/Chutney/Ensemble: Katie Heidbreder
  • Winthrop/Kyle/Dewey/Guard/Ensemble: Adam Grabau
  • Mom/Courtney/Whitney/DA/Ensemble: Maura Hogan
  • Dad/Lowell/Guard/Ensemble: David James
  • Grandmaster Chad/Carlos/Ensemble: Moses Rodrigues
  • Kiki/Ensemble: Neil Rushnock
  • Judge/Ensemble: Patricia Targete
  • Cop/Ensemble: Jordan Andre

Understudies

  • Julia Lancione (Elle Woods)
  • Danny Tippet (Emmett)
  • Maura Hogan (Brooke, Serena, Margo, Kate)
  • Patricia Targett (Pilar, Enid)
  • Jordan Andre (Warner, Kyle)
  • Janine Sunday (Vivienne, Paulette)
  • Tom French (Professor Callahan, Kyle)
  • Neil Rushnock (Padaman, Carlos, Nikos)
  • Jay Gerrick (Male Swing)
  • Janine Sunday (Female Swing)

Orchestra

  • Conductor/Keyboards: Ross Scott Rawlings, Douglas Lawler, or Greg Knauf
  • Trumpet: Tony Neenan, Frank Gorecki, or Craig Taylor
  • Trombone: Jay Ellis, Griz Grifford, or Dan Pendley
  • Guitar: Greg Land, Will Brumbach, Gordan Greene, or Kim Spath
  • Bass: Linda Cote, Adrian Cox, or Frank Higgins
  • Percussion: Aaron Holmes, Jack Loercher, or Scott Robinson

Production Staff

  • Director/Choreographer: Mark Minnick
  • Musical Director/Orchestration/Arrangements: Ross Scott Rawlings
  • Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Lighting Designer: Coleen Foley
  • Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerie
  • Dance Captain/Jump Rope Consultant: David Gregory
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerie
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: Corey Brown, David A. Hopkins,
  • Sarah Splaine, Russell Sunday
  • Properties & Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald
  • Sound Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Stage Crew: Laura Blasi, Jason Britt, Cody Cooley, Erin MacDonald, Amy Sonntag

Theatre Staff

  • Artistic Director: Toby Orenstein
  • Associate Artistic Directors: David A. Hopkins, Lawrence B. Munsey
  • General Manager: Joel Friedman
  • Assistant Manager: Patrick Albright
  • Form Manager: Steve Lewis
  • Chef/Kitchen Manager: Chuck Cofield
  • Chef/Assistant Kitchen Manager: Anthony Beachum
  • Director of Group Sales/Tour and Travel: Cheryl Clemens
  • Group Sales Coordinator: Breena Hemron
  • Group Sales Hosting Staff: Bob Ciborowski, Bonnie Ciborowski
  • Marsha Raymond, Michele Sanders
  • Director of Marketing: Nancy Michel
  • Box Office Staff: Ellen Blasi, Lisa Brooks, Mary Dempsey, Katie Flaco, Lynae Harris, Estele King, Bethany Kohner, Marie Moineau, Maureen Rogers, Ben Sechrest, Ashley Taylor
  • Bookkeeper: Bayna Castner
  • Youth Theatre Administrator: Janine Sunday
  • Theatre Photographer/Website Designer: Kirstine Christiansen
  • Bar Manager: Shawn Kettering
  • Maintenance Engineers: Stephen B. Harris, Mike Monahan

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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