“Everyone, say cheese! No, say Legally Blonde!”
This past Thursday, Dec. 2, Villanova Student Musical Theatre (VSMT) opened its first production of the semester in the Mullen Performing Arts Center’s Court Theatre. All performances were entirely sold out as students, family and friends were eager to see this amazing production.
A 2000s classic, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is the upbeat and inspiring story of a young woman, Elle Woods, who follows her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, all the way to Harvard Law School.
“What, like it’s hard?”
The fashion major goes in hopes of winning Warner back but along the way discovers she never needed a man in the first place. Now aware of the strength and intelligence she has always had, and equipped with “legal jargon,” Elle is ready to take on the world and, perhaps, find a man worthy of her - one who acknowledges she is a strong, independent woman.
Samantha Aitken, who portrayed Elle in VSMTs production, could not have been better suited for the role. In fact, Aitken’s fearless performance just proves she was born to play Elle. Her powerful voice filled the theatre, literally making jaws drop. While faithful to Elle’s bubbly yet intrepid nature, Aitken’s Elle is more realistic and genuine. Rather than sweet and completely clueless, this iteration of the beloved character is more astute and mindful of others.
“I’ve loved getting to portray such an iconic character in Elle,” Aitken said. “Her confidence in herself really grows throughout the show, and I hope our audiences left feeling inspired by
what they saw.”
Sophomore Patrick Calhoun took on the role of Emmet Forrest, a hardworking, quirky and personable law student who helps Elle make it through her first year at Harvard. Calhoun executed Emmett’s quippy character with perfect comedic timing. With Calhoun’s fantastic voice, one cannot help but root for Emmett as he becomes an important figure in Elle’s life and maybe, just maybe, something more.
“Getting to perform in this show that I have loved for a while in a role that I also love
was such an incredible experience,” Calhoun said. “Having such a talented directing team who pushed us to be the best we could be, as well as having all insanely talented cast members, made this entire process unforgettable. I can’t imagine doing this show with any other group
Like Calhoun, Amelia Morning, who played Paulette Buonofuonte, had the audience in stitches with her perfect comedic timing and amazing Bostonian accent. Not only is Morning incredibly funny, but her voice is so powerful and her take on Paulette is adorably heart-warming and sweet while still true to the character’s spunky nature.
Cristian Rodriguez charmed audiences as Warner Huntington III, Elle’s college boyfriend. Charismatic Warner is devoted to achieving the “serious” life his family has set out for him. Dressed in perfectly polished suits, Rodriguez immediately gains the audience’s attention, singing his solo “Serious” before breaking Elle’s heart, along with the audience’s. Warner may not have gotten the girl, but Rodriguez sure got the audience's admiration and many laughs.
Former enemy and Warner’s fiancé, Vivienne Kensington, becomes Elle’s best friend in Act Two as she helps her new friend see her own strength and legal expertise. This provided freshman Vanessa Rosado a well-deserved spotlight as her belt and riffs blew audiences away in the song “Legally Blonde (Remix).”
Frankie Frabbizzo played the true antagonist of the show, Professor Calhoun, known for his ruthless teaching style. Elle’s Criminal Law 101 professor, Calhoun is introduced with the song, “Blood in the Water,” which Fabbizzo sang with authoritative power.
A constant throughout both acts was the dazzling dances choreographed by the talented Aidan Fedcko. From Irish dance to jump rope cardio choreo, the cast provided unwavering energy. Junior Olivia Pistella, who played Serena, Elle’s Delta Nu sister and UCLA cheerleader, demonstrated her immense dance skill, leaping and high-kicking her way into the theatergoers hearts. Additionally, freshman Jacob Long, who was UPS delivery man Kyle B. O'Boyle, astounded with his Irish dancing, a skill he learned for the show according to Fedcko.
The icing on the cake was the Y2K wardrobe. Jackie Caroll, Serena Sandwell and Anya Speaker created the show’s extensive collection of costumes with many trips to thrift stores and even digging through their own personal closets. Their creation was something to covet as Elle’s closet consisted of glittery pink jeweled booties, pink plaid jackets and, of course, her iconic Gloria Steinem inspired bunny costume.
This show was the perfect COVID-19 comeback production for the University’s beloved VSMT club, something senior Victoria Bock reflected on after the show.
“It has been liberating getting to be on stage again after almost two years without live
Theatre,” Bock said. “Having the audience see my full face and hearing them react and laugh was surreal, and it made me remember my love for performing.”
Keep an eye out for VSMT’s performances to come, as the Spring 2022 semester brings new productions of “Assassins” and “Carousel.”