Katie McCarthy, bubbly, jovial and endearing, delightfully anchors Playhouse South’s admirable production of the upbeat, silly and surprisingly touching “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” breezily directed by Jim Brown and adapted in 2007 by Laurence O’Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Heather Hach based on the 2001 film of the same name.
McCarthy, colorfully costumed by Jenni Cypher, was born to play fashion-conscious sorority star Elle Woods, who optimistically journeys to Harvard Law School in order to reclaim her ex-boyfriend. Displaying pleasant vocals and a perky spirit that sidesteps annoyance, she firmly grasps Elle’s innate cheerleading instincts, particularly as a Pied Piper enthusiastically drawing crowds, and tender vulnerability, specifically when her world crumbles late in Act 2 after she rediscovers the beauty of staying true to self.
Elsewhere, the supporting cast cohesively gels. The amiable Josh Livecchi is appropriately unassuming as Emmett Forest, the introverted teaching assistant who grows to care for Elle in spite of her outgoing flair. Brad Bishop is sharply hard-nosed as Callahan, Elle’s ruthless professor. Angie Thacker adds enjoyable comic relief as Paulette, the beauty shop proprietor whose self-esteem and love life is reborn. The lively Jackie Darnell, as Elle’s sorority sister Serena, particularly leads the infectious “Bend and Snap” with vim and verve. Meagan Kuchan and Stefanie Dodge are respectively solid as liberal Enid Hoopes and imprisoned fitness guru Brooke Wyndham. Megan Rademacher is effectively snippy as Elle’s nemesis Vivienne Kensington. Matthew Scheerschmidt and Brett Norgaard are funny cohorts in “There! Right There!” Waky Harris fits the bill as Kyle, Paulette’s crush. Jessica Jones, appearing briefly, is a hoot as Elle’s tipsy mother. Brian Kester is too old to play Elle’s boyfriend Warner Huntington III but his efforts are serviceable nonetheless.
Energetic routines from choreographer Greg Andrus and a fine set designed by Ray Zupp are added benefits within this artistically sound endeavor.
“Legally Blonde: The Musical” continues through Nov. 17 at the Clark Haines Theatre of the Kettering Board of Education Building, 3750 Far Hills Ave., Kettering. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Act One: 70 minutes; Act Two: 55 minutes. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and military and $8 for students. For tickets or more information, call (888) 262-3792 or visit www.playhousesouth.org