Friday, August 17, 2012

REVIEW: 'Legally Blonde' at Manatee Players in Bradenton allows young stars to shine

The Manatee Players typically stage musicals that are older than a good percentage of the performers on stage.

Not so with “Legally Blonde,” which opened the Bradenton company’s 66th season Thursday.

Based on the 2001 hit movie of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon, the musical proved the ideal vehicle for the community theater’s young stars.

The entire cast deserves praise but the show wouldn’t be nearly as commendable if not for the performance by Cassandra Caballero as Elle Woods.

Judiciously borrowing only a few of Witherspoon’s trademark mannerisms, the Sarasotan made the charming character her own indelible creation.

From delivering comedic one-liners to dealing with an unwanted sexual advance, Caballero displayed serious acting chops.

A fine dancer, the recent University of Miami graduate also sang with the strength, range and sensitivity of a polished professional.

Like the movie, “Legally Blonde” finds pretty sorority sister Elle being dumped by her UCLA boyfriend Warner and then following him to Harvard Law School.

Elle’s fellow graduate students are appalled by her pink attire and pampered Chihuahua.

(Yes, there’s a real dog on stage, actually two, and they’re both adorable).

But, you guessed it, Elle eventually wins the stuffy Harvard students over and proves to be much brighter than the brainless blonde they thought her to be.

Unlike the movie, Elle’s Delta Nu sisters serve as a Greek chorus that specializes in suggestive dance moves and references to naughtiness that may, or may not, offend certain audience members.

On balance, though, “Legally Blonde” is two hours of harmless, frothy fun teeming with a refreshingly youthful exuberance.

—Photo: Warner Huntington lll, played by William Masuck, talks with Elle, played by Cassandra  Caballero, in a scene from the Manatee Players' production of "Legally Blonde" at the Riverfront Theatre in Bradenton. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

Details: Through Sept. 2; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton. Tickets: $26 (adults), $15 (teachers) and $13 (students). Information: 941-748-5875 or


Richard said...

Wow-could you take less effort in reviewing this show?

Richard said...

No mention of ANY of the rest of the cast, the production staff. Very lazy!