Warner Huntington III: You got into Harvard Law?
Elle Woods: What, like it's hard?Life seems to be going swimmingly for sorority socialite Elle Woods. Homecoming queen, president of Delta Nu, and girlfriend to Warner Huntington III, Elle has no qualms with the way her life is heading, particularly as she suspects Warner is soon to pop the question. However, things take a turn when Warner dumps her on the night she thought he was going to propose. His reason? "If I'm going to be a politician, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn."So Elle is dumped for being "not serious enough." However, she realizes the perfect way to get Warner back — by becoming a serious law student. Elle manages to get into Harvard Law School, but this is only the beginning as she strives to prove her worth to Warner, her professors, her fellow students, and even herself. All the while dressed in pink and with her Chihuahua Bruiser by her side.The musical takes a different direction from the 2003 movie. The genre disparity between the over-the-top wacky comedy (Elle's two sorority sisters, the "bend and snap" scene) and the more realistic comedy (almost everything else) is gone. "Bend and Snap" as a big dance number fits right in in a musical full of big dance numbers. In fact, the bend-and-snap is made into an actual plot point, replacing the mind-bending "designer shoes" plot point from the film. Minor characters are dropped in exchange for expanding the current cast. The musical version's Emmett has a real give-and-take relationship with Elle, Kate's character is expanded as she helps Elle get into Harvard law, the Delta Nu sorority is more diverse, and Brooke Taylor Wyndham seemed like an actual fitness enthusiast capable of making her empire instead of being just a glamorous Barbie doll. Warner and Elle did their undergrad at UCLA as opposed to the fictional CULA.The original Broadway musical aired on MTV a month after production and managed to win one and get nominated for several awards. Some viewers consider it an improvement over the film, while most consider it quite good as far as musical adaptations go.
This musical shows examples of:
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Vivienne, at least at first. Lampshaded by Elle, who calls her "an evil preppy" at one point.
- Adaptation Distillation:
- Elle & Emmett as the groundwork for their relationship is laid over their studying during the fall semester and winter holidays. In addition, Elle has to work harder and sacrifice more in order to get the results she wants, making both the portrayal more believable and her character richer. Emmett also gets this by virtue of spending more time with Elle, helping her study and re-focusing her motivations on herself instead of trying to impress Warner. Extra points awarded as this is done out of true friendship and not in any way to try and pick her up.
- Delta Nu gets this thanks to the sorority sisters, specifically Margo, Serena & Pilar, getting more time to interact with Elle via the Greek Chorus. Kate's character is added to the Broadway version and is seen equal to all the other sisters despite being different from them. Several sisters are also sporty, most notably Brooke Wyndham who is less high glamour and more polished, sporty entrepreneur.
- Adorkable: Emmet is well-liked in and out of universe for this reason.
- Ambiguously Gay: There's a whole number dedicated to figuring out whether the trial witness is gay, or just the sort of campy that comes along with being European. Turns out both are true!
- Amoral Attorney: The song Blood in the Water could act as a description of the trope.
- Arc Words: "Love" and many variations on it.
- Arson, Murder, and JaywalkingEmmett: Therefore, malum in se is?
Elle: An act that is evil in itself: assault, murder, white shoes after Labor Day.
- Artistic License – University Admissions: Elle shows up at the Harvard Law admissions office while they're looking at her application to present a huge dance number and an equally huge guilt trip until they agree to accept her.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: During "Chip On My Shoulder", there's this exchange:
- Emmett: I predict you will probably pass-
Emmett: In the bottom percent of your class.
- The Beard: Brooke was unknowingly this to her poolboy, who claimed to be her lover to hide the fact that he was gay.
- Better Than Sex: "So Much Better"
- Berserk Button: Do not insult Gloria Steinem in front of Enid.
- Brainless Beauty: Elle is assumed to be this, but she averts it excellently. Warner leans a little closer to this trope by comparison, but downplayed in his case.
- Brainy Brunette: Played straight with Vivienne. Elle attempts to invoke this by going to the Hair Affair, only to be talked out of it by Paulette.
- Broken Bird: Paulette.
- Butch Lesbian: Enid is lesbian and most definitely non-girly, with an aggressive demeanor and a fashion sense that Elle describes as "fatigue chic".
- Camp Gay: Carlos, and his boyfriend, Nikos. There's a whole musical number dedicated to it.
- Check Please: At the end of "Serious".
- The Cheerleader: Reconstructed. Serena confirms that cheerleaders get guys by exposing themselves, but then shows how it can be a way to female empowerment, and teaches other girls to believe in themselves. Also, she's not the most promiscuous Delta Nu, to the extent she can call Margot a slut with total impunity.
- Composite Character: Vivienne, in that she takes over Professor Stromwell's role in getting Elle back to law school.
- Cool Big Sis: Paulette is this for Elle.
- Deadpan Snarker: Warner, Vivienne, Emmet and Callahan. Paulette occasionally slips into it too.Elle: The Bend and Snap is 99.99% effective on straight men!
Paulette: (with fake enthusiasm) Yeah, and I've got a great track record with those!
- Disproportionate Retribution: Okay, Chutney, we get how awkward and creepy it must be to have a stepmom young enough to be your sister, but does that really warrant murder!?
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- The whole point of the "bend and snap." Elle and the Greek Chorus are impressed by Paulette's naturally excellent "bend and snap," and teach her how to use it to get Kyle's attention. Elle weaponizes it later, when she realizes the witness might be gay, which would make his story about having an affair with Brooke perjury. First, she tries it on said witness, and he doesn't bat an eyelid. Then, she tries it in the courtroom—and the head of every other guy (and Enid) all whip around to look.
- During "Whipped Into Shape," Enid gets distracted by Brooke's DVD. Understandable, since she's in a sports bra and workout clothes and is doing a vigorous, bouncy dance routine.
- Doting Parent: Both of Elle's. Though they are at first reluctant to pay her way through law school, when they find out how determined she is to get Warner back, they agree. Later, they show up at her trial, beaming with pride.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Brooke to her clients in "Whipped Into Shape."
- Ear Ache: The witness is dragged by his ear in "There! Right There!"
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Elle gets hers during "Omigod You Guys!", when she sees through a department store saleswoman's attempt to sell her an overpriced, out-of-style dress.Elle: "It may be perfect for a blonde... but I'm not that blonde."
- Emmett being the only person at Harvard to even attempt to be nice to Elle.
- Elle gets hers during "Omigod You Guys!", when she sees through a department store saleswoman's attempt to sell her an overpriced, out-of-style dress.
- The Exit Is That Way: Subversion. She knows she is walking into a closet to make a dramatic costume change.
- Genki Girl: Elle, her Sorority Sisters and Brooke.
- Greek Chorus: Elle's sorority sisters from UCLA. Made even better because they're a Greek Chorus!
- HAHAHA–No: Inverted.Serena: Paulette, do you know why cheerleaders always get the guy and keep the guy?
Paulette: Because you jump around and show your panties?
Serena: HahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA—YES! But also because we command and demand attention.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: Elle harnesses this power during "Take It Like a Man" to try to help the handsomely scruffy Emmett impress his boss before the trial. He sees himself in the mirror and promptly shocks himself! Even the still-Alpha Bitch Vivienne has to chalk one up to Elle when she sees him at the court house, and his boss is sufficiently impressed as well.
- He's Got Legs: Kyle. How the UPS allowed him to get away with shorts that short is anyone's guess.
- "I Am Becoming" Song: "So Much Better".
- "I Am" Song: "Chip on my Shoulder" is this for Emmett, at least at the start.
- Irony: Warner broke up with Elle because he perceives her as a Dumb Blonde and thinks that he needs to date someone smarter and more serious. At the end of the musical, it seems that Elle is actually the smarter of the two, she ends up as a successful lawyer while Warner drops out of law school and starts a career as a model instead.
- "I Want" Song: "What You Want," "Serious," "Chip On My Shoulder".
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Callahan. He starts off as a cold, condescending, ruthless Amoral Attorney, but when Elle manages to turn the case around, he acts warmly towards her, praising her and defending her from Warner. And then, almost immediately after, he makes a move on Elle, and when she rejects him, he fires her, sending her into a Heroic BSOD.
- Lady Drunk: Elle's mom.
- Meaningful Echo: "If there ever was a perfect couple, this one qualifies."
- Meaningful Name: Emmett Forrest, the romantic counterpart of Elle Woods.
- Metaphorgotten: From "Ireland (Reprise)":Paulette: The Irish fear nothing and no one
They keep fightin' 'til everyone's dead
I'm not sure where this metaphor's goin'
I just felt like it had to be said
- Mr. Fanservice: Kyle. "The new UPS guy is like walking porn!"
- Warner's status as this is lampshaded a few times. In the end, he becomes a model.
- Nikos, Brooke's poolboy. His "uniform" was a red thong and evidently nothing else and Brooke even admits that she liked to check him out while he cleaned the filters. Turns out he's gay.
- Ms. Fanservice: Elle, her sorority sisters and Brooke are the most obvious examples, although the point of the musical is to show that there's more to Elle than her looks. "Bend and Snap" shows that Paulette can be this too.
- Mood Whiplash: "So Much Better" starts off with Elle in the depths of despair, only to have her go to ecstasy in approximately one second.
- Murder by Mistake: The murder victim's daughter and killer confesses that she didn't kill her father on purpose; she wanted to kill Brooke.
- The Musical
- Musicalis InterruptusWarner: That's why I think you and I... should break up!
Elle: Oh baby I'll give you my hand, we—WHAT!?
Emmett: Elle you should know...
- As well as:
Elle: Callahan hit on me.Emmett: ...He what?
- Mythology Gag: In the film, Harvard is portrayed by UCLA; in the musical, Elle does undergrad at UCLA.
- Never My Fault: Callahan acts as though he did nothing wrong after sexually harassing Elle and fires her in retaliation.
- Nice Guy: Emmet and Paulette.
- No Indoor Voice: Paulette has, or rather doesn't have, this.
- Oireland: Where Paulette wants to live someday.
- One True Love: Elle thinks Warner is this. He's not.
- Pet the Dog: Warner, as opposed to the movie. At the end of the movie, we learn graduated with no honors, no girlfriend and no job offer, whereas in the musical, he drops out of college but becomes a successful model.
- Race Lift: The witness at the murder trial and his boyfriend. In the film, the witness is Latin and named Enrique Salvatore, while the musical's Nikos Argitakos is ostensibly Greek. Meanwhile, in the film his boyfriend is (the presumably not Latin) Chuck but in the musical it's Carlos.
- Reflexive Response: In "There! Right There!"Emmett: So, Mr. Argitakos. This alleged affair with Ms. Wyndham has been going on for...?
Nikos: Two years.
Emmett: And your first name again is...?
Emmett: And your boyfriend's name is...?
Nikos: Carlos. (the courtroom reacts in shock/"I knew it!") Oh--no... no, I misunderstand! I thought you said best friend. Carlos is my best friend.
Carlos: (stands up in the middle of the court) YOU BASTARD!
- Refrain from Assuming: It's actually called "There! Right There!", not "Gay or European?", believe it or not.
- On the Cast Album anyway; the score lists it as "Gay or European?" which makes much more sense.
- Sad Clown: Paulette is something of a comic relief character, but it's clear that a lot of her humor stems from coping with her cripplingly low self-esteem.
- Satellite Love Interest: Warner for Elle, exemplified in Oh My God You Guys when Margot sings, "You're a perfect match because you both have such great taste in clothes!"
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Emmett and Elle.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation
- Shout-Out: To The Music Man.Emmett: Class of aught-five, represent!
- Sidekick Song: "Ireland" is one big, bombastic excuse for Orfeh (or whoever's playing Paulette) to get up and show off.
- Slimeball: Callahan, Callahan, CALLAHAN.
- Smug Snake: Callahan; he's convinced that he's the only one who can pull off Brooke's trial and smugly tells her to "enjoy prison" when she fires him. In his Villain Song he talks about all the sleazy, underhanded tactics one can use to let people get away scot-free for horrid crimes.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: One of Elle's sorority sisters can talk to Elle's chihuahua.
- Stealth Pun: A Greek Chorus made up of sorority sisters?
- Stepford Smiler: Elle in the titular number, when she tries to pretend she's okay with returning to California and giving up, living a life of being what people expect her to be.Some girls fight hard, some face the trial, some were meant to just smile...
- Straw Feminist: Enid qualifies as one. To clarify, she considers a man who murders a nun and runs over puppies to be a "typical man".
- Third-Act Misunderstanding: Warner sees Callahan petting Elle and assumes Elle slept her way into the internship.
- Title Drop: "I don't want to see Ratty Corduroy or Legally Blonde again today."
- Title: The Adaptation: Legally Blonde: The Musical!
- Token Romance: In the best sense. Elle has kicked ass and proven herself to everyone over the course of the musical. The fact that she meets a great guy who loves her for exactly who she is is just the cherry on top.
- Training from Hell: Brooke's workout regimen, as demonstrated in "Whipped Into Shape."
- Triumphant Reprise: "Legally Blonde: Remix", sung by Vivienne of all people.
- True Companions: Elle and her Sorority Sisters. And later, Elle, Emmet, Warner, Vivienne, Enid and Paulette.
- Unkempt Beauty: Emmett. Paulette qualifies to a lesser degree (she's not so much unkempt as she is lacking in a lot of confidence—hence doesn't pay a lot of attention to her looks).
- Up to Eleven: The... "personal essay" portion of Elle's Harvard application. You thought that tape she used in the movie was ridiculous! Puh-shaw!
- Villain Song: "Blood in the Water".
- Voice Types: A large part of the vocal spectrum is represented:
- Elle and Brooke - Mezzo-Soprano
- Paulete - Alto
- Vivienne - Soprano
- Warner - Tenor
- Emmett - Bari-Tenor
- Callahan - Baritone
- Although it is worth noting that all female characters are belters.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Narrated by Paulette; Enid practices family law, Vivian is training for the Peace Corps, Warner quit and became a model, Callahan ran for governor but lost and his wife left him, hiring Emmet to handle their divorce, Paulette married Kyle and had two kids (plus one more on the way) and has a new salon. During this, Elle graduated valedictorian and proposed to Emmet who accepted.
- World of Ham: If every single member of the cast is not playing this to the hilt, that cast is doing it wrong. This then makes "Legally Blonde" all the more heartwrenching, as Emmett and Elle drop all the hamminess.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Callahan does this to Warner.