Design Aspects In Legally Blonde: Film Analysis
When most people think of theatre they likely picture people up on a stage acting. This certainly is an important part of theatre, but there is much more going on than meets the eye. A casual audience member might not know all the inner workings of theatre and all of the time and dedication that goes into putting a show together. Besides the obvious acting part of theatre there is also directing, lighting, sound, set design, costumes, makeup, stage crew, and so many other parts that have to intertwine seamlessly to make a show look effortless and well put together. It is a unique art form in this sense, it is not just the work of one person, but dozens, and sometimes hundreds.
In Legally Blonde: The Musical all of the design aspects are quite well put together and are complicated enough to show the effort that goes into creating a show. The set design is a particularly striking part. The sets for each scene are complicated enough to give a clear picture of where the scene is taking place and to aid in the story telling, but not too complicated as to take away from the acting itself. There are also double sided flats that can be turned around quickly to transform into a completely different scene. Pieces like the Delta Nu sorority house staircase come back multiple times throughout the musical and are utilized in a variety of ways to add more depth to the show. When transitioning between scenes, the set pieces move seamlessly and create brand new settings in the blink of an eye. Overall, the set design for Legally Blonde is exceptional and a highlight of the show.
Another design aspect of the show that deserves to be illuminated is the lighting design. Everyone who is familiar with Legally Blonde knows that the main characters “signature color” is pink. The ongoing pink theme of the entire show is brought to the audience’s attention before even the first character is introduced; the stage is softly lit with a pink and purple hue in the very first scene and intensifies greatly when we are first introduced to Elle. This pink lighting stays relatively constant throughout the entire show, except in specific scenes where we are meant to see that Elle “doesn’t belong” such as the majority of the scenes at Harvard where Elle is not accepted by faculty or her peers until she proves herself.
Seeing as Legally Blonde is a musical, sound design is obviously very important. There have no doubt been incredible play and musical performances that were ruined by a song starting at the wrong time or mic levels being too low or too high. Sound design is essential to creating a musical and helping it appeal to the audience members. Sound technicians have to constantly keep tabs on what is happening in the show and know when their next cue is coming up. They have to monitor all the actor’s mic levels and make sure to lower and raise them when needed. The sound design in Legally Blonde is satisfactory, with only a few points where a mic volume was too low.
The most interesting aspect of design in this particular show was definitely the costumes. The costumes in Legally Blonde are one of the most defining traits of characters in Legally Blonde; Between the bright colors of the Delta Nu sorority girls the the dull khaki tones of Harvard faculty, costumes show a stark difference in the two worlds Elle is a part of. The first few scenes featuring the sorority girls are very loud and filled with color, the audience may not know exactly where to look because there is so much happening at once. Elle appears in her signature pink clothing and sets her tone for the show: she likes to stand out and be seen and she does not care what other people think. When we are first introduced to the admissions committee at Harvard everything on the costumes and the set is in muted, neutral browns and tans; if someone was shown side-by-side pictures of this scene, and the previous ones they would most likely guess they were from two completely different shows. When Elle bursts in the door with a marching band and choreographed dance number, we see the two sides of the world collide quite jarringly. On Elle’s first day of class she sticks out like a sore thumb in her bright pink ensemble and is ridiculed by her classmates. As the show progresses and she begins to be pulled more into the Harvard world she still represents pink, but often mutes it by wearing blue denim or another pattern that makes the pink less obvious. When she saves the day at the trial and finally proves herself she is wearing no pink at all, but a blue suit. She is then sexualy harrased by her professor and sinks to her lowest point. But her spirits rise and to show that she is back in the game she wears a completely pink suit to court the next day. The costumes aren’t just things that blend into the background in this show, they show Elle’s entire character development and represent her desire to fit in or to stand out. The costume design in Legally Blonde is excellent and very well done.
Despite the fact that some people may view Legally Blonde as a play without much substance, the high caliber of all the design aspects and the acting cannot be denied. It is obvious that an extreme amount of work was put into making this show and every single person that played a part in it’s creation should be applauded for their efforts.