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.
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.
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!
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.
The Cheerleader: Deconstructed. 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.
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.
"I Am" Song: "Chip on my Shoulder" is this for Emmett, at least at the start.
"I Want" Song: "What You Want," "Serious," "Chip On My Shoulder".
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.
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.
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.
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...? Nikos: Nikos. 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.
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!"
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.
Voice Types: Elle is a mezzo-soprano, Paulette is an alto, Emmett is a tenor/baritone, Callahan is a baritone. (Though to be more specific, both Elle and Paulette, along with most of the female cast members, are belters)
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.