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Energetic, colorful Legally Blonde The Musical at Center Stage Jackson (Review) June 24, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals.
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The third of eleven local productions of Legally Blonde the Musical in the SE Michigan area came by way of Center Stage Jackson at the lovely Potter Center Baughmann Theatre.

This production was a very solid community theater production, with an energetic cast, some great voices, and a fast-paced production that was colorful and funny. Very good performances were turned in by Mary Krzesicki as Elle Woods; Adam Woolsey (Warner); Chip Mezo (Emmet); Timm Richardson (Professor Callahan); and Lisa Ykimoff (Paulette). M0st supporting roles were well-played, with some exceptions. The women’s ensemble was top-notch (if too young for some of the “kids” who were supposed to be in college); but a bit raggedy in the men’s ensemble — with some downright terrible thrown in there as well (in particular some of the younger cast members who were called on to play adults). ¬†Legally Blonde, like Annie, is a show that revolves around the younger folks, but it still requires a strong adult ensemble to back it all up. Not so much here.

The production was consistently high quality, with kudos to set designer Chris Fultz. Sound and lighting were also solid, and the costumes appropriate and colorful. I look forward to seeing future works by Center Stage Jackson, based on this very good community theater production. I would ask you to check them out as well — although I was able to only attend the last performance of Legally Blonde, so you’ll have to see what they have in store for next season at centerstagejackson.org

One final note: this is the first time that I have seen the use of The MT Pit musical recordings for a production. This is a company that records real orchestra tracks (not midi’s or reduced orchestrations) upon a company’s proof of paying the royalties and payment for the full orchestrations of the show. Instead of a live orchestra in the pit, the recorded tracks are played and sound-mixed with live voices on stage. The result was quite remarkable — it allows for the cranking of volume when needed, and decreasing volume where necessary to allow the vocalists to be heard. Don’t get me wrong, I will always opt for a real orchestra with live performers in the pit, and would never personally direct a musical without a live pit orchestra — that is what makes musical theater what it is — but for some community theater groups and high schools where this is not an option due to facility limitations; musician limitations, etc, this is a great option. In essence, you get a full orchestra without the physical players in the pit. It doesn’t save costs, though, as you still pay for the live orchestra recording, only those musicians were in LA, not in Jackson. I do not know what reasons Center Stage Jackson had to use the tracks, but it worked for this production.

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