Omigod, Please Don’t Make Me Want to Go See Legally Blonde

Stuart Bousel — who wrote and directed Troijka last year which I enjoyed — actually liked Legally Blonde, the musical that is playing right now at the Golden Gate Theater. Now, okay, I haven’t seen it, so maybe I shouldn’t venture an opinion just in case I decide to go see it and realize that it’s totally brilliant and thus will be unable to pretend that I’ve been an advocate of the show right from the start. But it sounds like a one-joke idea for a musical to me, and the two songs on the SHN website sound like one-joke songs to my ear, and I had already made up my mind not to see it. Now I’m warily curious.

But maybe I’m just too old for this kind of stuff: Mr. Bousel writes:

It also is one of those rare birds in modern musical theater: something geared to appeal to my age group, and for that I’m actually pretty grateful. It’s getting harder and harder to find fun, entertaining, smart new musicals for the Gen X and Y crowd.

Believe me, it’s pretty hard to find good new musicals for the Gen W crowd, too. But in another blog entry, he wrote that the music for Spring Awakening didn’t sound like “musical music”, and I sort of had that feeling about the two songs from Legally Blonde. It’s attractive, pleasant pop music but it doesn’t convey specific emotion to my ears. But maybe I’m too old and listen to too little of this kind of music to hear nuances in it, I don’t know. It often takes me several listenings before I get a piece of music. First time I saw a Kurt Weill musical, all the songs sounded exactly the same to me; now I wonder what was I thinking? Bruckner still sounds that way to me, every movement of every symphony sounds like every other, yet Dave is a major Bruckner fan and insists that if I listened more, I would get it.

Mr. Bousel adds:

THE WILD PARTY is grand, of course, but it’s more of the arty pursuasion, like PARADE, and feels like it belongs to an older tradition of serious operetta.

Ouch. You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’d drop everything and buy orchestra seats for a good new serious operetta.

My vibes about Legally Blonde have been that it’s going to be yet another story in which the writers spend three quarters of their time relentlessly mocking their characters for being stereotypical and shallow (and whose fault exactly is that, anyway?) and then expect us to feel genuine emotion for them when they get into some kind of crisis and tug on our heartstrings. There are so many movies and plays that try to work that way, they never work on me like they mean to and leave me feeling irritated rather than moved, and Legally Blonde has been looking to me like another one of them.

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