Omigod! “Legally Blonde” and More Blondes

Natalie Joy Johnson in “Legally Blonde the Musical” with Rufus.

Natalie Joy Johnson in “Legally Blonde the Musical” with Rufus.

Do blondes have more fun? They do if they’re on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for the feel-good show “Legally Blonde The Musical.” All the blondes (and blondes at heart) in the audience were also having fun, as I saw last week at the star-studded Los Angeles premiere of the show. The smash-hit Broadway musical adaptation of the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon is based on the novel by Amanda Brown. And the proud author was on hand to see Becky Gulsvig take the stage as her pretty-in-pink heroine, playing her to perfection.
“Legally Blonde The Musical” (running now through Sept. 6) is as refreshing as a cool breeze from Malibu. Becky plays Elle Woods, a UCLA Delta Nu sorority girl who gets dumped by her boyfriend, then enrolls at Harvard Law School to win him back. Surprises are in store for Elle, who discovers that through hard work and being true to yourself, you can achieve great things. Along the way are delightful characters, personal growth, love and big laughs, as well as musical numbers that could entertain the pom-poms off the cheerleading squad. It’s a high-energy show that leaves you breathless and happy.
Another blonde in the show is Natalie Joy Johnson, who has the scene-stealing role as Paulette Bonafonte, the bubbly beauty parlor babe who dispenses salty sayings between show-stopping musical numbers. At the opening night celebration, I had a chance to chat with Natalie who told me, “I’ve been preparing for this role my entire life.” That’s no exaggeration, because she grew up helping her mother and aunt at their hair salon. As a little girl, Natalie took on the duty of sweeping up snippets. She’d dance around with the broom and delight the customers with her singing. “I’ve always loved performing, but who would have guessed that I’d grow up and play my mother,” the tall blonde laughed about her “roots.” “The beauty parlor was a place where all the customers could talk about their lives and share stories with my mother and my aunt. Like when Elle Woods comes into the Hair Affair and shares her problems with Paulette. And then they help each other in very unexpected ways.”
In the show, Elle has her little pocket pooch Bruiser, and Paulette has her adorable doggie Rufus. It’s impressive how well trained the dogs are, hitting their marks on stage like pros, and milking all the “aaahs” from the audience. Natalie revealed, “I’d love a dog, but it wouldn’t be fair. I’ll just have to enjoy Rufus as we travel across the country on our national tour.”
In the audience giving “Legally Blonde” a tremendous ovation during the curtain calls were Priscilla Presley, Nia Vardalos, Christine Lakin, Chelsea Hightower, Rachel York, Vik Shay and Jane Seymour, in a pink ensemble that looked like it was straight from Elle Woods’ closet because it was sassy and smart. Pink was worn by many of the fashionistas in the audience. Representing classic Hollywood blonde leading ladies were Anne Jeffreys and Anne Rutherford. The young theater-loving crowd included blonde Haylie Duff, Kristi Frank and Devon Werkheiser. And a gal for every generation, my favorite funny lady JoAnne Worley, was there catching up with Jenna Leigh Green; they were castmates in “Wicked” when it played the Pantages.
All were wild about the show, and many were still giggling about the outrageous “Gay or European” musical number that was just one of the many highlights from the Broadway/L.A. presentation. The talented cast and wonderful members of the orchestra were joined by many of the stars at the opening night party sponsored by Los Angeles Magazine at Social Hollywood on Sunset. It’s an elegant club that’s sooo “Omigod!”