Twelve years after she arrived in movie theaters, glamour girl Elle Woods is still making doubters into believers. When David Gritzner found out a musical adaptation of “Legally Blonde” was released on Broadway, he assumed the worst. But after witnessing the show’s high energy and non-stop hilarity, the executive director of the State College Community Theatre knew he had to bring Ms. Woods to Happy Valley.
This weekend, Elle will make the transition from Southern California sorority sister to high-powered Boston lawyer in “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at the State Theatre. The light-hearted comedy is a laugh-out-loud journey that teaches a valuable lesson: Don’t judge a blonde by her cover.
The show’s storyline stays true to its cinematic counterpart. But the musical numbers and jubilant choreography make the neon pinks and glittery smiles explode.
“The show starts out literally at 100 miles per hour and stays that way for the whole thing,” Gritzner said. “It’s a very high energy show. It’s uplifting, and makes you want to get out of your seat and start clapping.”
The show, the theater group’s first since making the downtown venue its permanent home, is full of memorable musical numbers. In “What You Want,” Elle decides to pursue her ex-boyfriend, begins studying and gets accepted to Harvard Law School. A particularly memorable scene in a salon from the movie is transformed into a hilarious musical number called “Bend and Snap.”
“When I first heard about this show, I didn’t think I would like it. I thought, ‘Did they really need to do that?’ ” Gritzner said with a laugh. “But when I went to see it, I thought ‘Wow.’ ”
Talent shines in new venue
State College Community Theatre’s shows are quality performances powered by our neighbors. Skilled members of the community, both on and backstage, make each performance happen.
“This is people giving us their time and talent for the enjoyment of the community,” Gritzner said. “We have a very good core group of people and it’s their way of contributing.”
The high-octane performance is a natural way to start the community theater’s first season in its new home. Gritzner said the State Theatre provides a new experience and gets his organization better acquainted with downtown. He hopes to connect with the university community and a youthful and modern performance like “Legally Blonde” should do the trick. In fact, almost half of the cast is Penn State students — most of them theater majors.
“Penn State students are members of this community,” Gritzner said. “Most of our shows were done in the summer months when they aren’t here.” He added that he hopes bringing the plays downtown during the semester will attract more of them to the State Theatre.
The community theater group used to hold performances in the Boal Barn in Boalsburg, a unique historic barn that lacked some modern amenities — like air conditioning. The State College Community Theatre has put on performances for more than 50 years. While hosting performances at the Boal Barn became a part of the group’s charm, the opportunity to hold shows at the downtown venue were too good to pass up.
State Theatre executive director Richard Biever said he is thrilled to have the State College Community Theatre hold their performances at the State Theatre and is excited to see the 2013 season unfold.
“The State is here primarily for local artists and arts organizations,” he said. “We are community owned, so the more community produced events, the better.”