Legally Blonde (theatre)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Warner Huntington III: You got into Harvard Law?
Elle Woods: What, like it's hard?

Life seems to be going swimmingly for sorority socialite Elle Woods. Homecoming queen, president of Delta Nu, and girlfriend to Warner Huntington III, Elle has no qualms with the way her life is heading, particularly as she suspects Warner is soon to pop the question. However, things take a turn when Warner dumps her on the night she thought he was going to propose. His reason? "If I'm going to be a politician, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn."

So Elle is dumped for being "not serious enough." However, she realizes the perfect way to get Warner back -- by becoming a serious law student. Elle manages to get into Harvard Law School, but this is only the beginning as she strives to prove her worth to Warner, her professors, her fellow students, and even herself. All the while dressed in pink and with her Chihuahua Bruiser by her side.

Based on the semi-autobiographical story of Amanda Brown, the 2001 film starred Reese Witherspoon in her first break-out role. This page, however, is about Legally Blonde: The Musical, which hit Broadway in 2007. An MTV broadcast of the musical can be watched in full on Google Video.

The musical makes some changes from the movie that are arguably an improvement. The genre disparity between the over-the-top wacky comedy (Elle's two sorority sisters, the "bend and snap" scene) and the more realistic comedy (almost everything else) is gone. "Bend and Snap" as a big dance number fits right in in a musical full of big dance numbers. In fact, the bend-and-snap is made into an actual plot point, replacing the mind-bending "designer shoes" plot point from the film. The musical version's Emmett also has a real give-and-take relationship with Elle, rather than being merely the bemused bystander whose primary role was to provide the proposal at the end. Warner and Elle did their undergrad at UCLA as opposed to the fictional CULA, making for implications from the very start that Elle actually is intelligent under that hair color. And there's the introduction and expansion of Kate's character, who helps Elle get into Harvard law, made way for a more diverse Delta Nu as well as a much more realistic Brooke Taylor Wyndham who instead of being just a glamorous Barbie doll seemed like an actual fitness enthusiast capable of making her empire.

Tropes used in Legally Blonde (theatre) include:
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Elle & Emmett as the groundwork for their relationship is laid over their studying during the fall semester and winter holidays. In addition, Elle has to work harder and sacrifice more in order to get the results she wants, making both the portrayal more believable and her character richer. Emmett also gets this by virtue of spending more time with Elle, helping her study and re-focusing her motivations on herself instead of trying to impress Warner. Extra points awarded as this is done out of true friendship and not in any way to try and pick her up.
    • Delta Nu gets this thanks to the sorority sisters, specifically Margo, Serena & Pilar, getting more time to interact with Elle via the Greek Chorus. Kate's character is added to the Broadway version and is seen equal to all the other sisters despite being different from them. Several sisters are also sporty, most notably Brooke Wyndham who is less high glamour and more polished, sporty entrepreneur.
  • Ambiguously Gay: There's a whole number dedicated to figuring out whether the trial witness is gay, or just the sort of campy that comes along with being European. Turns out both are true!
  • Amoral Attorney: The song Blood in the Water could act as a description of the trope.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking

Emmett: Therefore, malum in se is?
Elle: An act that is evil in itself: assault, murder, white shoes after Labor Day.

  • Better Than Sex: "So Much Better"
  • Berserk Button: Do not insult Gloria Steinem in front of Enid.
  • Brainy Brunette: Played straight with Vivienne. Elle attempts to invoke this by going to the Hair Affair, only to be talked out of it by Paulette.
  • Check, Please!: At the end of "Serious".
  • The Cheerleader: Deconstructed. Serena confirms that cheerleaders get guys by exposing themselves, but then shows how it can be a way to female empowerment, and teaches other girls to believe in themselves. Also, she's not the most promiscuous Delta Nu, to the extent she can call Margot a slut with total impunity.
  • Ear Ache: The witness is dragged by his ear in "There! Right There!"
  • The Exit Is That Way: Subversion. She knows she is walking into a closet to make a dramatic costume change.
  • Greek Chorus: Elle's sorority sisters from UCLA. Made even better because they're a Greek Chorus!
  • "I Am" Song: "Chip on my Shoulder" is this for Emmett, at least at the start.
  • "I Want" Song
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Callahan. He starts off as a cold, condescending, ruthless Amoral Attorney, but when Elle manages to turn the case around, he acts warmly towards her, praising her and defending her from Warner. And then, almost immediately after, he makes a move on Elle, and when she rejects him, he fires her, sending her into a Heroic BSOD.
  • Lady Drunk: Elle's mom.
  • Meaningful Name: Emmett Forrest, the romantic counterpart of Elle Woods.
  • Mood Whiplash: "So Much Better" starts off with Elle in the depths of despair, only to have her go to ecstasy in approximately one second.
  • The Musical
  • Musicalis Interruptus

Warner: That's why I think you and I... should break up!
Elle: Oh baby I'll give you my hand, we--WHAT!?

  • Mythology Gag: In the film, Harvard is portrayed by UCLA; in the musical, Elle does undergrad at UCLA.
  • No Indoor Voice: Paulette has, or rather doesn't have, this.
  • Oireland
  • One True Love: Elle thinks Warner is this. He's not.
  • Race Lift: The witness at the murder trial and his boyfriend. In the film, the witness is Latin and named Enrique Salvatore, while the musical's Miko Argitakos is ostensibly Greek. Meanwhile, in the film his boyfriend is (the presumably not Latin) Chuck but in the musical it's Carlos.
  • Reflexive Response: In "There! Right There!"

Emmett: So, Mr. Argitakos. This alleged affair with Ms. Wyndham has been going on for...?
Mikos: Two years.
Emmett: And your first name again is...?
Mikos: Mikos.
Emmett: And your boyfriend's name is...?
Mikos: Carlos.

  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Emmett and Elle.
  • Screen to Stage Adaptation
  • Shallow Love Interest: Warner for Elle, exemplified in Oh My God You Guys when Margot sings, "You're a perfect match because you both have such great taste in clothes!"
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Elle harnesses this power during "Take It Like a Man" to try to help the handsomely scruffy Emmett impress his boss before the trial. He sees himself in the mirror and promptly shocks himself! Even the still-Alpha Bitch Vivienne has to chalk one up to Elle when she sees him at the court house, and his boss is sufficiently impressed as well.
  • Sidekick Song: "Ireland" is one big, bombastic excuse for Orfeh (or whoever's playing Paulette) to get up and show off.
  • Stealth Pun: A Greek Chorus made up of sorority sisters?
  • Straw Feminist: Enid qualifies as one.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Warner sees Callahan petting Elle and assumes Elle slept her way into the internship.
  • Title Drop: "I don't want to see Ratty Corduroy or Legally Blonde again today."
  • Title: the Adaptation: Legally Blonde: The Musical!
  • Token Romance: In the best sense. Elle has kicked ass and proven herself to everyone over the course of the musical. The fact that she meets a great guy who loves her for exactly who she is is just the cherry on top.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Legally Blonde".
  • Up to Eleven: The... "personal essay" portion of Elle's Harvard application. You thought that tape she used in the movie was ridiculous! Puh-shaw!
  • Villain Song: "Blood in the Water".
  • Voice Types: Elle is a mezzo-soprano, Paulette is an alto, Emmett is a tenor/baritone, Callahan is a bass.
  • World of Ham: If every single member of the cast is not playing this to the hilt, that cast is doing it wrong. This then makes "Legally Blonde" all the more heartwrenching, as Emmett and Elle drop all the hamminess.
  • You! Get Me Coffee!: Callahan does this to Warner.