Review: Legally Blonde: The Musical (The Lower Ossington Theatre)

Toronto’s Legally Blonde: The Musical is illegally fun

OMIGOD, it’s always a pleasure visiting The Lower Ossington Theatre you guys! For Legally Blonde: The Musical, we even changed our work schedules. Was it worth it? You betcha!

Like most people, I was familiar with Legally Blonde from the Reese Witherspoon movie of the same name.  After all, it’s on TV more often than Seinfeld reruns.

The story is familiar. Girl meets boy; boy leaves girl; girl grows into a mature human being.

I’m not sure how well the story or message plays in feminist circles. I am certain, however, that Legally Blonde: The Musical is a LOT of fun. Before the play began, we browsed the playbill. Noticing the large cast, I thought out loud “With this many people, there’s no way one person is getting noticed.”

I was wrong. As great as the ensemble is, there are some standouts. Anna Hurshman is stellar in the lead role of Elle Woods. Her voice is a treasure. She also has incredible charisma. She commands the stage and it is difficult to take one’s eyes off of her. That being said, she also knows when to step back a bit and let others shine.

And shine they do. There are so many stars that it is like watching a cloudless summer sky in Muskoka.

There are a couple of scenes that are duets between Elle and Paulette (Heidi Thomas).  These two women work beautifully together. Both of them are immensely talented, and it could have easily decayed into a diva parade. Instead, their chemistry really makes it fun for everyone. It looked like they were having fun too, I hope that’s true.  It was a bit like watching the female version of Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo.

The choreography and talent of the cast is actually scary good at times. “Whipped Into Shape” opens the second act, and it is really something splendid. There’s a wild ferocity on display but at the same time an admirable display of discipline and rehearsal as well. It’s truly Olympian and wonderful to witness. Alyson Workman is another standout in the role of Brooke Wyndham.

Legally Blonde is a timeless story yet also current. I couldn’t help but think of Mitt Romney at times. Both Romney and Elle are super-rich white people from a weird place trying to get into a prestigious institution. Romney wants The White House. Elle wants Harvard Law School. One is a skin-deep, superficial android with perfect hair. The other is Elle.

Another highlight is “Gay or European”. This song was performed exquisitely; perfectly. I whispered to Michelle, “It’s like one of those gigantic Marx Brothers numbers!”  You’ll be laughing, cheering, in hysterics and wishing you had the physical prowess of the people on stage when you see it. In short, you’ll smile until your cheeks hurt.

The set is minimal and unobtrusive. That’s one of the things I love about The Lower Ossington Theatre.  Set designer like Michael Galloro has created a subtle garden in which amazing talent flourishes.

It’s incredible how fast Legally Blonde flies by. We were in the theatre for more than two hours but it felt like twenty minutes.

There were only minor things we disliked. The placement of Elle’s microphone was one. We also wish that the doggies Buckminster and Roxy would have come out to take a bow!

Legally Blonde: The Musical is playing at The Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington) until March 31
-Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 4pm
-Tickets range from $45 – $75
-Tickets are available online, in person or through the box office at 416-915-6747

11 thoughts on “Review: Legally Blonde: The Musical (The Lower Ossington Theatre)”

  1. I am simply shocked by this review. Certainly I respect Mr. Perry’s opinion, and reviews are just one person’s opinion, but I would feel remiss if I did not add my own opinion to this review, in the hopes of dissuading others from wasting their money on this atrocity. I’m still incredible upset having spent $120 for my daughter and I to attend this show. It was absolutely terrible. Other then a couple of the young kids who sang well, overall the cast was at the university level, the set seemed to have been built in the dumpster behind the theatre, the costumes taken from the cast’s closets, the sound had so much static and pops and kept cutting in and out, the choreography was uneven and it wouldn’t even have been a good university show, but at least I wouldn’t have paid $60 a ticket for it. I’ve already spread the word to other friends who were thinking of taking their kids for March Break to warn them off. I hope other people who see the show can add their comments here, since I firmly believe those comments will reflect my opinion more then your reviewer’s. Please do not waste your money on this show.

  2. Hi Jesse,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, we always love to hear from readers.

    I haven’t seen the piece, so I can’t comment on that, but I did want to say, I felt like those were some pretty steep prices. For Mirvish level pricing I’d be looking for something close to Mirvish level production values too.

    Hopefully you saw it on an off night. I’d love to hear from others who saw the show.

  3. After reading the review I was wondering if your reviewer seen the same show as I did. There are things that I think are true, like that the scenes between Elle and Paulette being excellent, but overall I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the show. Jesse’s use of “atrocity” might be a bit strong, but only a bit. And I can certainly see why he’d be upset at having spent $120 on tickets. I’ve seen far stronger and more polished work from both professional and community theatre groups for a fraction of the cost of the tickets at LOT.

    The area where I would use “atrocity” without hesitation is the sound. Even had the mics been working consistently (or even just working in some cases) the balance still had the music overpowering the singers. It’s a musical, not a rock concert. The lyrics are important.

  4. Gotta say that I kinda agree with Jesse Smith. I wouldn’t go so far as saying “atrocity” but with the exception of Heidi Thomas as Paulette, the gal who played Serena and the gentleman who played Professor Callahan, the cast wasn’t really professional quality. The gal playing Elle while certainly looking the part and having a charming stage presence also had a light singing voice that I couldn’t hear at all in the first act and had no real character arc – Elle didn’t change a smidge from the beginning of the show to the end which made for a very flat show. Kind of the equivalent in thrills as a kiddy coaster at the local fair.

    The technical elements were terrible. The set and costumes were boring and poorly executed, and the sound? It may rate as the worst sound operating/design I’ve heard yet. Popping, hissing and extremely poorly mixed. If the theatre doesn’t have equipment that functions well turn the canned music down and let the actors sing unaided.

    Speaking of, the canned music also made my soul a little sad.

    Overall I wouldn’t recommend the show. The price is far too high for the value given the audience. I can safely say my group of 4 won’t be attending a show at this space again any time in the near future.

  5. I sort of agree, but not nearly as fanatically as Jesse. My daughter (age 9) loved it. While it was easy for me to see mistakes, she just watched the dancing, singing etc. If you’re taking your kid to a show just let them enjoy it! It is absolutely a show that a group of young girls would enjoy.

    While the set was clearly simple, I thought some of the talent was great, especially the woman who played the hairdresser. Based on only one previous experience at this theatre (saw Avenue Q with some friends, which was just fantastic) I would not pass this place off as quickly as some, as it appears they are capable of good shows and maybe this is just a fluke.

    I did pay more for my Avenue Q tickets (60 I think) and I thought it was totally worth it. However I am not really disappointed I spent 40 on these tickets. I have definitely spent more money on worse dinners, shows, etc. so, for a couple hours of fun with my daughter, it seems more than reasonable.

  6. I’ve seen a few LOT productions and the only one worth seeing is ‘The Rocky Horror Show’: THAT was brilliant! But “Spring Awakening’, ‘Joseph’, and ‘Legally Blonde’ were weak (Spring Awakening being a total mess of a production. I saw the Toronto Youth Theatre production in the same space and it was better in EVERY aspect).
    It is NOT terrible by any means, but it is not quality work: it felt like all the kids who just graduated Randolph decided to put on a production.
    There are WAY better Toronto theatre options that cost WAY less than this. It is almost unfair how much the tickets cost!
    That being said: I wish the cast the very best!

  7. I’m just going to toss out there that unless they’ve changed something since they were casting for spring awakening, this company charges prices like these for tickets but still expects the actors to rehearse and perform for free. It’s one thing to expect people to perform for nothing but experience and resume building when you’re only trying to recoup what you spent on a show, but I think it’s shameful when you expect people to work for free while charging the same prices a larger show would have. It’s hard enough to get started as an actor without having everyone refuse to pay you until to manage to get that elusive first union gig, and its why i don’t see these shows. I thought people might want to know.

  8. My first experience at the Lower Ossington Theatre was with Avenue Q, and I quite enjoyed that show. The performers were obviously young, but talented, could sing, and the puppets were terrific. My second experience at the LOT was with Legally Blonde. I thought the show was terrible. Perhaps not atrocious as Jesse Smith suggests, but it was pretty bad. As a number of others have mentioned, the sound was really awful, and so distracting, with crackling and popping and sometimes working and other times not. There were some good performances, but the quality of performance was very inconsistent, and most of the performers seem to be recent theatre school graduates with little experience. In fact the entire production felt like something I would see at theatre school or community theatre. I absolutely agree that the ticket pricing is ridiculous for the product. They are charging the same prices as Soulpepper or Canadian Stage, for an amateur product. I would not pay $60 or even $40 for this show.

  9. The desription of the show as an atrocity is a bit too much to say the least ! You might try an anger management course.It`s not the performers (who are working for free ) who are responsible for the lighting,costumes,sound system,mikes and choreography.Take aim again !

  10. Interesting reviews. I saw this show a couple of days ago and absolutely loved it. I was certainly underwhelmed with the set and with the ticket prices was expecting more of a polished, professional production in general, but I thought they did the show justice. The women in the show were certainly more vocally talented than the men (Paulette was incredible, I enjoyed Elle, and you don’t get to see how great Vivian’s voice is till the 2nd act. Meanwhile, while Warner’s voice was not 100% terrible… come on… surely somebody better auditioned…)

    One thing I’m shocked and appalled to hear is how many people heard the awful pops and crackling in the sound. I thought they were simply having some technical difficulty and even then thought “Okay, this is a small space, just TURN THE MICS OFF; they’re not worth it!” To think that this is an issue they’re consistently having every show and nothing has been done about it? That’s unforgivable.

  11. Gee, I loved it :) I wasn’t to sure what to expect when we showed up as I’ve never been to this theatre before but I was pleasantly surprised. I missed the smaller theatre atmosphere you can get in Toronto and I wasn’t disappointed. It felt more intimate and we enjoyed that. Singing was great, was it perfect all the time no, but we just saw the Broadway touring company of Cats in Mississauga, and it had some just ok singers too, same price as this show. Maybe one day one of cast members will be huge on Broadway and we can say we saw them at LOT one time in this show :) Thanks, we had a great night out.

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