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Theatre / Legally Blonde

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Love! I'm doing this for love! And love will see me through!
Yes, with love on my side I can't lose!
And Harvard can't refuse
A love so pure and true!
Don't lawyers feel love too?

Life seems to be going swimmingly for sorority socialite Elle Woods. Homecoming queen, president of Delta Nu, and girlfriend to Warner Huntington III, she has no qualms with the way her life is heading, particularly as she suspects Warner is about to pop the question. However, things take a shocking turn when Warner dumps her out of the blue instead. His reason? He's off to Harvard Law, and if he's going to be a senator by the time he's 30, he needs someone more serious—a "Jackie" instead of a "Marilyn."

Elle is devastated, but she quickly devises the perfect plan for winning Warner back—she'll get into Harvard and become a law student herself, all while dressed in pink and with her Chihuahua Bruiser by her side. While she's constantly underestimated by others because of her appearance, she's determined to prove herself to Warner, her professors, her fellow students, and even herself. Along the way, her goals and priorities gradually start to change, and she realizes that she may want something different from life after all.

The 2007 musical, scripted by Heather Hach and with songs by the husband-and-wife team of Lawrence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, takes a different direction from the 2001 movie. While the movie mixed over-the-top wacky comedy with more realistic comedy, the musical is Denser and Wackier, full of Acceptable Breaks from Reality and moments of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, though the songs are also highly integrated into the plot, with many long musical scenes that cover enormous amounts of story and Character Development. Additionally, several minor characters (like Professor Stromwell and David) are dropped to focus more on a few key characters. In particular, Emmett's character is expanded upon significantly, and Elle's friendship (and eventual romance) with him becomes a much bigger part of the story.

The original Broadway musical, starring Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, aired on MTV a month after production and managed to get nominated for several awards, winning one. 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, who's very smart but very judgmental towards Elle. Lampshaded by Elle, who calls her "an evil preppy" at one point.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Professor Stromwell is not featured in the musical, with her role split between Vivienne and Callahan.
    • David Kidney, the tall student Elle pretends to have dated to help him attract girls, is also cut.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The musical's ending is very close to the movie's, but with a couple distinct tweaks.
    • In the movie, the viewer is told that Emmett is planning to propose to Elle after the graduation ceremony. In the musical, Elle ends her valedictorian speech by pulling him up in front of the crowd and proposing herself right then and there, which he accepts. This really drives home how much Elle (who, in the beginning, was desperately waiting for a proposal and fretting over hurting her boyfriend's "pride" by seeming too obvious about it) has changed as a person over the course of the show.
    • Instead of graduating friendless at the bottom of his class, Warner is said to have dropped out entirely in favor of pursuing a modeling career. Depending on how it's played, this can come across as a happy ending for him or as a final Take That!, though most productions seem to lean towards the former.
    • In the case of the gay couple this also applies. The movie has Chuck tell off Enrique when he refers to the former as just his friend with no sign of reconciliation. The musical has Nikos admitting to his sexuality, after Carlos has made enough of a scene, with the two then happily dancing together. Carlos thanks Nikos for finally coming out, and kisses him.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: In the movie, Elle decides to better herself and take law school seriously all on her own, while the musical has Emmett having to guide her through the same process step by step. She also doesn't give up on getting Warner back until after she gets the internship instead of having her epiphany at the party. Justified, as the change is meant to develop Emmett as a character more and also build a stronger foundation for Elle's eventual romance with him. In addition, it is common for law school students to create study groups to go through the material, since it's hard to go through it all alone, so Emmett also serves this role.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Elle and Emmett's relationship (which is very much left in the background of the movie) gets quite a bit of this. They're shown to be studying together over around several months (during the fall semester and winter holidays), which helps to build a believable camaraderie and closeness between them. Emmett himself as a character is also much better-established with a clear backstory and motivation. He helps Elle out of friendship and a genuine desire to see her succeed and prove everyone wrong, not because he's trying to pick her up. By the time "So Much Better" comes around, it's entirely believable that they're best friends.
      Emmett: Hey! They laughed at me like they're laughing at you,
      We can't win if we don't follow through!
      Might I venture your vacation plans can wait?
    • The “Bend and Snap” is only featured in one scene in the film, which ends with Paulette accidentally breaking the UPS guy’s nose. The musical however brings back the Bend and Snap during one of the courtroom scenes acting as Elle’s primary piece of evidence that Nikos is gay
    • Delta Nu gets this thanks to the sorority sisters (specifically Margo, Serena, and Pilar) getting more time to interact with Elle via the Greek Chorus. Kate's character is added to the Broadway version and is seen as 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.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: As is pretty typical of any adaptation, most of the characters are at least a little different than they were in the movie, with the biggest example probably being Paulette, as the producers admitted the meek Shrinking Violet version of the character in the movie wouldn't really translate well onto the stage where she has to emote to the back rows, so the musical's version of Paulette (especially as played by Orfeh) has Paulette's insecurity manifest as being more loudly neutoric and eccentric.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: In the movie, Vivienne is the one who sees Callahan sexually harass Elle and accuses her of seducing him into her position. In the musical, both Vivienne and Warner witness this happening, but Warner leaves before seeing Elle slap Callahan. Warner fills film Vivienne's Not What It Looks Like role and confronts Elle, and Vivienne tells him to shut up. Later, she's the one who encourages Elle to return to the trial.
    Vivienne: Maybe Warner saw a blonde who was sleeping her way to the top, but all I see is a woman who doesn't have to.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Both this show and the original movie have Callahan sexually harass Elle, but he's a far bigger Slime Ball in the musical. In his very first scene, he establishes himself as an Amoral Attorney of the highest order who will pull any dirty trick to win a case, and even implies he has no problem indulging in prostitutes and heroin. Also, while he's not exactly unjustified in doing so, thanks to being a bit of a Composite Character, it's him who throws Elle out of class here, which he does as cruelly as possible. In general, he's a far more open Jerkass here than the seemingly Cool Teacher of the film, as he has no problem insulting his students and interns throughout, reveling in his scary reputation. Not only that, but the finale reveals that he is — or rather was — a married man, which makes his actions toward Elle even more despicable. And on the topic of his treatment of Elle, in the original, while it's still awful, he goes no further than feeling up her leg. This version has it so that he gives Elle a Forceful Kiss. Not only that, but after Elle rejects him, Callahan fires her, a far worse reaction than his cinematic equivalent. While Elle did slap him, you can't blame her at all given he planted a Forceful Kiss on her.
  • Ambiguously Gay: There's a whole number dedicated to figuring out whether the trial witness is gay, or just the sort of camp that comes along with being European. Turns out both are true!
  • All for Nothing: Elle goes to extraordinary lengths to prove Brooke's innocence without revealing her deeply embarrassing alibi, only for Brooke to blurt out said alibi just as Elle finishes proving her innocent.
  • Amicable Exes: Elle and Warner seem to be this in the finale. He attends her graduation from Harvard even though he dropped out of school himself and joins in with the final song that's all about celebrating Elle and Emmett's relationship.
  • Amoral Attorney: The song "Blood in the Water" could act as a description of the trope. Callahan is ruthless and amoral from the start, apparently willing to defend any client if they have money.
  • "Anger Is Healthy" Aesop: Discussed in "Chip On My Shoulder". After Elle follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law and discovers Warner has moved on and still doesn't take her seriously, Emmett encourages her to get a chip on her shoulder and work hard to prove everyone — especially her ex-boyfriend — wrong. By the end of the number, she has channeled her anger enough to effectively counterargue Warner's argument in class, impressing everyone.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In all productions after the original Broadway one, the entirety of "Legally Blonde" takes place in the courtroom, so Elle is actually present to hear Emmett confess his love for her. In turn, this is no longer a Love Epiphany for Emmett (his line "Please will you open the door?" is changed to "I should have told you before"), but a last-ditch attempt at giving her a reason to stay. The resulting fallout (Elle clearly returns his feelings, but at that point is so broken down that she thinks it's not even worth trying to stay) changes their dynamic for the whole rest of the show.
  • Arc Words: "What about love?" and many variations on it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    Emmett: Therefore, malum in se is?
    Elle: An act that is evil in itself: assault, murder, white shoes after Labor Day.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Adapted Out when Elle negotiates for Paulette's dog back from her ex Dewey. In the movie, Elle claims to be a lawyer representing Paulette. That's illegal because she's not lawyer, just a a law student. Here Elle uses the more nebulous term "legal team" and brings Emmett (a licensed attorney) along with her, which at the very least downgrades it to murky rather than a clear-cut violation.
    • In the "Gay or European" sequence, Carlos' exclamation from the gallery would not be considered valid evidence, and the judge would probably order the statement stricken from the record and for the jury to disregard it. The defense would have the option to (and really should) call Carlos as a rebuttal witness and get official testimony from him on the matter, but they can't use a spontaneous utterance from the gallery as a substitute for actual testimony. That being said, since the case was ultimately dismissed before the defense even had a chance to call witnesses, it's possible they did intend to officially call Carlos as a witness if the case had gotten that far and it just never happened due to Chutney's confession and the subsequent dismissal of Brooke's case.
  • 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. Needless to say, no university accepts that as a substitute for a personal essay.
  • As You Know: Invoked by Warner during "Serious" who tells Elle his upcoming law school plans, which she likely already knows.
    Warner: I'm going to Harvard Law School and my brother's at Yale Law — so's his new wife, and she's a Vanderbilt for Chrissake.
  • Audience Participation: During "Take it Like a Man", Elle refers to Emmett by saying "Is he not hot?", which is almost always directed to the audience who then cheer for the newly fashionable Nice Guy.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: During "Chip On My Shoulder", there's this exchange:
    Emmett: I predict you will probably pass—
    Elle: Yes!
    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.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Deconstructed, but then also somewhat reconstructed. The story begins with Elle getting dumped; her sexy, carefree, sorority president persona makes her very desirable as a college girlfriend, but rather less desirable as the wife of a future politician.
    Elle: Being blonde and being hot
    That got me exactly squat
    Gotta to show him I got more to give
Later, though, Elle and the Delta Nu sisters advise Paulette to use a watered-down version of this to attract the attention of Kyle; demonstrating that you'd make a good long-term partner can come later, but in order for a relationship to even begin, you have to get noticed somehow, and being sexy and assertive is a reasonably reliable way to do that.
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.
  • Better Partner Assertion: In "What You Want", Elle argues that she is better than the boring east coast girl Warner wants because she can be fun, beautiful, smart, and serious.
  • Better than Sex:
    Elle: Seeing my name in black and white
    Is like making love with you all night!
    No wait, it's so much better, hello much better,
    So—oh oh OH OH!—much better!
  • Berserk Button: Do not insult Gloria Steinem in front of Enid.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Callahan, who almost ruins Elle's attempt to be an attorney, and Chutney Wyndham, the real culprit behind the Wyndham murder.
  • Blunt "Yes":
    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!
  • Book Ends: The show begins and ends with everyone celebrating Elle's engagement, but the context of the two scenes is extremely different. In the beginning, her engagement to Warner is considered a sure thing but hasn't technically happened yet; it turns out he's breaking up with her instead of proposing, which comes as a total shock to everyone. At the end, the engagement really happens...but she's engaged to Emmett instead, and Elle's the one who does the proposing in the first place, which also shocks everyone, but in a much happier way. The songs even sync up!
    Greek Chorus: If there ever was a perfect couple, this one qualifies!
  • 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.
    • Margot (and the other sorority sisters, to a lesser extent) plays this to a T, and it's hilarious.
      Serena: I don't even think [Warner]'s that hot!
      Margot: I do!
      Serena: Well, you're a slut!
  • Brainy Brunette: Played straight with Vivienne. Elle attempts to invoke this by dying her hair, only to be talked out of it by Paulette.
  • Broken Bird: Paulette is an older woman whose dreams were crushed by her abusive ex who took her home and dog, and has thus she's lost a lot of her hope, at least until Elle comes back around.
  • BSoD Song: "Legally Blonde."
  • Butch Lesbian: Downplayed Trope. Enid is lesbian and most definitely non-girly, with an aggressive demeanor and a fashion sense that Elle describes as "fatigue chic." She's not actually very masculine though, and only seems so in contrast to Elle and Vivianne.
  • Camp Gay: The song "Gay or European" is dedicated to trying to determine whether Nikos's fae affect means he's gay. It starts out with Elle's evidence that he was uninterested in looking at her ass, but soon moves to incorporate his fit body, Perma-Stubble, The Dandy dress, wearing of perfume, and waxed chest. They discuss at length, however, the fact that while all this pings people's gaydar, none of it is conclusive evidence of his sexuality — he could still be a Camp Straight European. The conclusive evidence comes in the form of his boyfriend: he's dating the similarly camp Carlos.
    Carlos: It's me, not her he's seein', no matter what he say! I swear he never, ever, ever swing the other way! You are so gay, you big parfait, you flaming one-man cabaret!
    Nikos: I'm straight!
    Carlos: You were not yesterday.
  • Check, Please!: At the end of "Serious," Warner sadly orders the check after Elle runs away crying.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • The ultimate example would have to be Kyle. Paulette describes him as "walking porn" and nobody objects. It's almost like the entire universe took a vote to agree that Kyle is extraordinarily attractive, with everyone who sees him practically foaming at the mouth, especially an instantly in love Ms. Bonafonte.
    • Warner earns the total devotion of Elle (at least at first), dates Vivienne, Margot shamelessly admits her attraction to him, and he ends the show in an apparently successful modeling career.
    • While Elle already finds him attractive, once she buys Emmett some fancy new clothes, everyone else joins in, with the whole ensemble joining her in singing about how hot he is, and Brooke and the legal team are all shocked by how good he looks after the makeover. Much like Elle, he seems to appeal to the other sex too, as the Broadway staging has him successfully distract Nikos with some swagger and a look at his ass.
    • Nikos has the attention of both Brooke, along with everyone singing explicitly referring to him as a "hottie", including the straight men present. Even the judge tries to ask him out.
  • Composite Character:
    • Vivienne takes over Professor Stromwell's role in giving Elle a pep talk and getting her back to law school.
    • Callahan takes over for Stromwell, as it's his class that Elle is kicked out of for being unprepared.
  • Confusion Fu: Emmett proves that Nikos is gay by asking several rapid fire questions about him and the case before asking his boyfriend's name, catching him off guard.
  • 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!
  • Devil's Advocate: Invoked by Callahan in "There! Right There!" with Vivienne and Enid joining in. Callahan ends up playing both sides of the argument.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: After winning the trial, Brooke cheerfully sings, "Now no one has to know that I got liposuction on my thighs!", after previously being willing to go to prison rather than reveal her alibi. Everybody hears her, but the Delta Nu girls assure her that they still love her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Elle's ideas run ahead of her plans.
    • When Elle ecstatically plans to get into Harvard and immediately skips ahead to planning the wedding, one of her more academic friends pipes up with "Now can we think this through???" and points out everything Elle will need to do to succeed.
    • Elle gets into Harvard Law—except that not only has Warner not taken her back, he's dating someone else. Plus she's seriously behind in reading for classes. Now what?
  • Dinner and a Breakup: As in the film, Warner takes Elle to a nice romantic dinner and breaks up with her; here in the musical, the scene becomes the number "Serious."
  • 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.
    • It's a little subtle and often missed by viewers the first time around, but this is part of Emmett's strategy during his questioning of Nikos, at least in the Broadway version. He lifts his jacket higher and puts a little saunter into his step as he walks past...and Nikos's gaze goes down to his butt. It distracts him enough that he honestly answers the question about his boyfriend's name without realizing it.
  • Doting Parent: Both of Elle's parents. 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.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Minor example, at least in the MTV broadcast; Vivienne slaps Warner during "There! Right There!" when he says his line, "depending on the time of day, the French go either way."
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Brooke very harshly instructs her clients in "Whipped Into Shape."
    Brooke: Come on, Sabrina, you heifer!
    Sabrina: I hate you, Brooke! And I love you for it!
  • Dude Magnet:
    • Elle certainly qualifies. She earns the heart of Emmett effortlessly, Warner despite dumping her is still attracted to her throughout and later attempts a proposal, Callahan sexually harasses her, and several ensemble characters appear to be quite enchanted by the blonde law student. If Enid's reaction to the bend and snap is any indication, Elle also appeals to women as well.
    • This also applies to several Delta Nu girls. Serena is particularly prepped up as being "catnip to the guys", and Margot seems to qualify on account of really getting around.
    • Once she's been properly encouraged by Elle and her sorority sisters, Paulette's bend and snap manages to outdo all of them, summoning a swarm of guys who proceed to drool all over her for the remainder of the song. Not long after this, she gets Kyle to fall in love with her. Harvard Law has a three-year program, and at Elle's graduation Paulette is pregnant with her third, suggesting they've had three kids in three years. And despite his nasty comments, she did manage to attract Dewey and keep him around for a decade. It's likely that her pull towards guys was lessened when her self esteem went way down after Dewey's emotional abuse, before it gets reawakened.
  • Ear Ache: Nikos is dragged by his ear at one point in "There! Right There!"
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Enid unpauses Brooke's promotional video with a very eager expression in order to watch her dance in her workout outfit.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Elle gets hers during "Omigod You Guys!" when she sees right through a department store saleswoman's attempt to sell her an old, out-of-style dress at full price. This sets up the dynamic of her often being underestimated by others because of her appearance, only to reveal that she's much smarter than she looks at first glance.
      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. This sets him up as a sweetheart who will be a major ally and Love Interest to Elle down the line.
    • Vivienne playing the "costume party" trick on Elle. Until then, their rivalry had been somewhat understated and most of the issues were based on circumstance, but here she crosses the line into a deliberate petty act with no purpose other than to embarrass Elle.
      • In the opposite direction, a late one comes when Vivienne makes a toast to Elle after "Gay or European". She may have moments of being the Alpha Bitch, but here we see that she's willing to be gracious and give Elle the credit she deserves despite their dubious history up to that point.
    • Warner gets his when after putting on a nice guy act, he breaks up with Elle purely because being with her would make him look less "serious". This shows that while he acts amiably, he's still a dick who only cares about how he's perceived.
    • Callahan's very first appearance makes it clear that he's an Amoral Attorney, Card-Carrying Villain, and all around Slime Ball.
    • If everything Paulette said about him beforehand didn't make it clear that Dewey's an enormous douche, then his very first line where he mocks Paulette's weight does.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: Discussed Trope in the number "There! Right There!" when it comes to Nikos Argitakos, as everybody points out that European men are just as affectionate with other men as gay men.
    Warner: Depending on the time of day, the French go either way.
  • The Exit Is That Way: Subversion. Elle knows she is walking into a closet, but it's just to make a dramatic costume change.
  • False Dichotomy: Callahan (and then the whole courtroom) assumes that Nikos is either gay or European. He's both.
  • Foreshadowing: In his first appearence, Callahan makes a crack about Enid's sexuality, flustering her. While he has a point about not letting your emotions compromise your argument, making such a joke about a student, particularly in front of the whole class is just not okay. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised when he turns out to be a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. Turns out, he has a habit of overstepping his bounds with students.
  • Foil: Elle and Emmett, at least at first, are polar opposites. She comes from a very privileged background, decided to go to Harvard on a whim, her father pays her tuition in full, and while she's incredibly smart she doesn't take studying seriously at first. By contrast, he had a deprived childhood, had to work two jobs on top of law school, and is so driven by his goal of succeeding and earning enough money to buy his mother a nicer place to live that he jokingly claims he hasn't even slept in years.
  • Funny Photo Phrase: During "Legally Blonde (Reprise)," Elle's parents drop by and grab a photo with Elle before she goes back to Brooke's case. Her dad says, "Everyone say 'cheese!'" but her (eternally tipsy) mother says, "No, say 'Legally blonde'!" The chorus indeed says "Legally blonde!" as they take the picture.
  • Geeky Turn-On: While he obviously thinks she's beautiful at first glance and is a kind and supportive friend to her, it is fairly clear that Emmett starts to really fall for Elle when she buckles down and learns to use her full intelligence instead of hiding it. This also does a very nice job of showing why he and Elle work as a couple — they have a shared belief in using the law to help the underprivileged and can keep up with each other intellectually.
  • Genki Girl: Elle and her Sorority Sisters are all very cheery, girly, energetic, and optimistic women.
  • The Glasses Come Off:
    • Elle is already into Emmett before improving his fashion sense, but she's positively giddy at the sight of him in a nice suit. The rest of the law team is also taken aback by the change, including Emmett himself.
    • Once Paulette embraces the bend and snap, she becomes a Dude Magnet and gains a surge in confidence.
  • Greek Chorus: Elle's sorority sisters from UCLA. Made even better because they're a Greek Chorus!
    Serena: Elle, this is a tragedy. And ever tragedy needs a Greek Chorus!
  • 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.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Warner's a Jerkass, but the ending, while not explicit in this regard, implies that he's either bettered himself, or he's on the way to doing so. He seems to genuinely regret breaking up with Elle, and supports her enough to go to her graduation despite dropping out.
  • Hollywood Law: No judge would ever allow a trial to be taken outside a courtroom, let alone to the crime scene. In real life, Elle would have to find a way to make her argument, and elicit the desired response from Chutney, inside the courtroom (as her film counterpart did).
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "So Much Better," when Elle accepts her internship as much more fulfilling than her relationship with Warner.
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "Chip on my Shoulder" is this for Emmett, at least at the start, where he explains his backstory and motivations.
    • "Legally Blonde" and "Legally Blonde: Remix" are late examples of this for Elle. The first is a defeated "I'm meant for nothing more than just looking pretty and smiling," while the remix is a triumphant "No, I am more than that and I do belong here."
  • "I Am Great!" Song: "The Harvard Variations" for Aaron in particular.
  • Irony: Warner breaks up with Elle because he perceives her as a Dumb Blonde and thinks that he needs to date someone smarter and more serious to accomplish his goals in life. At the end of the musical, it turns out that Elle is actually the smarter of the two. She ends up as the valedictorian of her class at Harvard while Warner drops out of law school entirely and starts a career as a model instead.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: As in the movie, Vivienne pulls this one on Elle, who arrives at a casual party in a Playboy Bunny costume. When Vivienne calls Elle a skank, Elle recovers by taking someone's glasses and insisting she is dressed as an undercover Gloria Steinem and asks Vivienne, loudly, if she is calling Gloria Steinem a skank. A horde of feminists lead by Enid descend upon Vivienne as Elle exits.
  • I See Dead People: Spoofed when Paulette sees the Delta Nu Greek Chorus and mistakes them for ghosts, saying the trope-naming line word for word.
  • "I Want" Song: There are several of these. "What You Want" is the obvious one, but "Serious" (for Warner) and "Chip On My Shoulder" (for Emmett) also qualify.
  • Jerkass:
    • Dewey shamelessly verbally abuses Paulette, ditched her for another girl after they spent years together, and when she shows up to get her dog back, he mocks her and steals the cake she made.
    • Warner is a somewhat passive example, with him being intentionally cruel only once. But he's still ultimately a shallow person who really only cares about himself and how he's perceived. He possibly becomes a better person by the end, but this potential development is not fleshed out enough to know for sure.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both Vivienne and Enid start out with unlikable traits on display, but they both have a want to do good and by the end they've shown themselves to be good lawyers and friends to Elle.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Warner rubbishes Elle's argument about Nico's testimony being discredited because he's gay, but he has a point that they can't just out someone on the stand and that they need more proof than the "Bend and Snap". Following on the heels of this, Callahan says that if Elle's wrong, "we look desperate and homophobic!"
    • While Callahan's first appearance establishes him firmly as somebody sleazy and amoral, he does give a few helpful pieces of advice like not letting emotions get in the way of a case.
    • Callahan also gets very upset when Elle won't reveal Brooke's alibi, which is understandable (if not necessarily justified) considering how unwilling Brooke has been to help her own defense and the fact that Elle doesn't seem to get the gravity of the situation.
  • Lady Drunk: Elle's mom only shows up with a drink in her hand and a slurred voice.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • On the MTV performance, Callahan claims he needs the students to talk to Brooke for him, because he doesn't "speak MTV".
    • Most notably in "Take It Like a Man," after Emmett wonders aloud why Elle has this hold on him.
      Emmett: Why can I never say "no" to her? [beat] What's that smell?
      Perfume Saleswoman: "Subtext," by Calvin Klein.
  • Leitmotif: "What You Want" has a section where Elle explains that she's "doing this for love." This music recurs several times throughout the show as a sort of love theme: it's the introductory verse to Paulette's solo, Elle gets a despairing version when she has to admit the failure of her plan to get Warner back, then a happier version with "love" changed to "law" when she realizes she actually likes studying law, Emmett gets his own version when he has his Love Epiphany, and the two of them reprise it together at the end.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Emmett is in succession completely confused, astonished and more than a little annoyed that Elle got into Harvard Law simply to try and win back her old boyfriend. Particularly because she (at first) isn't taking full advantage of the opportunity she has, that less privileged students would kill for.
  • The Load: Warner is explicitly called out by Callahan for contributing nothing to the legal team. This is emphasized by the climax where everyone excluding the recently fired professor plays a role in Elle's victory while Warner just whines about how they're gonna lose.
  • Madness Shared by Two: Paulette’s natural bend and snap abilities allow her to see Elle’s Greek chorus.
    Paulette: I see dead people.
    Elle: No! It’s just my Greek Chorus! I’m so psyched you can see them too now!
    Paulette: But I haven’t had any Jaeger.
  • Makeover Montage: Elle takes Emmett to a department store and gives him a makeover. It's a chance for him her see her in her element. It boosts his confidence. And there's a bunch of jokes about the perfumes being sprayed in the store.
    Elle: That's the best part
    The outside is new
    But now it reflects what's already in you
    Couldn't change that if I wanted to
    And I do not
  • May–December Romance: Offscreen with Brooke Wyndham and her late husband. Callahan mentions that despite being very young, she was "happily married, so she says, to her sixty-year-old stud."
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "If there ever was a perfect couple, this one qualifies." In fact, you could say that the last 20 seconds of "Finale" serves as a meaningful echo in its entirety, considering that it's basically identical to the ending of "Omigod You Guys." The overall context has just changed quite a bit in the space between the two songs.
    • "We girls have to stick together." Elle says this after Vivienne gets her kicked out of class, only to be met with scorn. Vivienne later says it back to her when she shows up at the salon to inspire Elle to return to the courtroom.
    • Elle asks rhetorically "Why do you always have to be right?" when Emmett points out she should keep studying over Thanksgiving break, and Emmett says the same quote when Elle convinces him of the importance of looking presentable at his job and takes him shopping. The repeat, while easy to miss, shows that the couple support each other and work through each other's weaknesses.
  • 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
  • Mistaken for Gay: Subverted with Nikos, who is thought to be a Camp Straight European but is actually a gay man.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
  • MRS Degree: Funnily enough, it's only when Elle admits that her real motivation to go to law school is this that the last university admission guy comes around to letting her attend Harvard.
  • 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 when Warner proposes to Vivienne, only to have her go to ecstasy in approximately one second when it turns out she's been selected for Callahan's internship.
  • 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.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Discussed trope. If Brooke did have a lover — as the opposition claims — that would provide a reason to murder her husband.
  • The Musical: It's a musical adaptation of the 2001 film.
  • Musicalis Interruptus
    • During the breakup
      Warner: That's why I think you and I... should break up!
      Elle: Oh baby I'll give you my hand, we—WHAT!?
    • As well as:
      Emmett: Elle you should know...
      Elle: Callahan hit on me.
      Emmett: ...he what?
    • Also:
      Delta Nu Chorus: Oh my god, omigod you g—
      Serena: (slams door) Guys, she's not here.
      Delta Nu Chorus: (in unison) 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 firing her in retaliation when she rejects him.
  • Nice Girl:
    • Paulette instantly proves herself to be an excellent and helpful friend to Elle, and she's shown to love her dog Rufus as much as a mother does her child. Not to mention, after breaking Kyle's nose, she stays by his side during his whole hours-long recovery.
    • Elle counts, given how she pays back Emmett and Paulette's kindness in full, is completely loyal to her first client, treats her dog like family, and even when she has every right to tell him off, she lets Warner down gently.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Emmett is the only person at Harvard who immediately treats Elle with respect and friendliness, he selflessly helps when she struggles and remains by her side throughout all of her conflict throughout the show, never giving up on her. Bonus points for helping Elle through all this even before he falls for her.
    • Kyle is extraordinarily friendly to Paulette right off the bad, acts like a total sweetheart to her dog as payment for staying with him in the hospital, not holding a grudge at all about how she put him in there, and ultimately becomes a loving husband to her and an attentive father to their kids. And unlike the other guys who fall for Paulette, Kyle's not shown to be a pervert about it, but just does so because of her personality.
  • No Full Name Given: As with the movie, Callahan's first name is never revealed.
  • No Indoor Voice: Paulette is a very loud person, especially when she screams "It's called Celtic Moods!" right into Elle's ear, interrupting the serenity of the music.
  • Noodle Incident: Pilar did something slutty during one Spring Break:
    Serena: Well, you're a slut.
    Margot: Look who's talking!
    Pilar: Three words: Spring break, Cabo!
  • Oh, Crap!: Played straight by Paulette who says this after she breaks Kyle’s nose attempting the bend and snap.
  • Oireland: Paulette sings a song romanticizing Ireland as a place full of whale song, jigs, whisky, and love. She thinks Irish men are very sexy. She got with her ex after he told her he was Irish. She's thrilled to find out her new crush has an Irish name.
  • One True Love: Elle thinks Warner is the only one for her due to their history and shared upbringing, and calls him that word-for-word at one point. He's not.
  • The Perry Mason Method: As in the movie, Elle's cross-examination of Chutney (and her superior knowledge of haircare) leads her to break down and confess.
  • Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Immediately after he delivers a package, Paulette describes Kyle as "walking porn." His dialog and delivery sound and look like they came straight out of a porn script, and the music that plays whenever he walks in doesn't help.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In the classroom, Callahan has no problem declaring that Enid is gay with only stereotypes and vibe as evidence. In court, though, he is resistant to doing the same to Nikos because it could cost him the case and potentially even hurt his firm's reputation on a larger scale.
    Callahan: You know, if you're wrong, we look desperate and homophobic!
  • Product Placement: Emmett chugs Red Bull after discovering that Elle has a lot of it.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The second act begins with Brooke leading what appears to be an Irrelevant Act Opener, until the action freezes and we see that the number is actually a video that the other characters are watching.
  • Pun:
    • Fraternities and sororities are collectively referred to as "Greek life." Here we have a Greek Chorus made up of sorority sisters.
    • During Emmett's Makeover Montage, "love is in the air" — they're at a department store where a perfume called Love has been sprayed into the air. The characters are also falling for each other.
      Sales assistant: "Love." It's the new fragrance from Chanel.
      Elle: Something's in the air
      Emmett: I think it's "Love."
      Elle: Exactly!
  • 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.
    • The German version has the witness as French and named Nico Chevalier, as the gag here is whether he is gay or French. His boyfriend's name is changed to Carlo as well.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Elle's parents, specifically her father. Despite their doubts about Elle going to law school, they become more open to the idea when they see how much it means to her—but her father only agrees to pay her tuition on the condition that she gets accepted on her own. He doesn't offer to pull any strings for her, despite the Woods family being wealthy enough that he likely could, but when she passes the LSAT and gets into Harvard, he happily covers the cost.
  • 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...?
    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!
  • Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Bruiser tells Margot and the rest of the sorority girls Elle's whereabouts in dog language. Margot translates for us:
    Margot: Bruiser, Where's Elle?
    Bruiser: (Yaps)
    Margot: She doesn't have an engagement outfit?
    Bruiser: (Yaps)
    Margot: She's totally freaking out?!
    Bruiser: (Yaps)
    Margot: She's trapped in the old valley mill?!!
    Bruiser: (Yaps)
    Margot: Oh sorry, the Old Valley Mall.
  • 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 Omigod You Guys when Margot sings: "You're a perfect match because you both have such great taste in clothes!"
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Emmett is the logical, down-to-earth guy and Elle is the peppy, idealistic girl.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: It's a musical stage play based on the 2001 film.
  • Secret Handshake: Elle and Emmett have one, which shows up first in "Chip on My Shoulder" and later in "So Much Better"; this is used to demonstrate that they are now best friends. Interestingly, going by footage on Youtube, every Elle and Emmett seem to have their own; for instance, the one Laura Bell Bundy and Christian Borle use onstage is different from the one used by their understudies Becky Gulsvig and Andy Karl.
  • Second Love: Elle starts the musical believing that wealthy playboy Warner is going to propose, and goes to extraordinary lengths to get him back when he dumps her... but she ends up proposing herself to scruffy, nerdy, kindhearted Emmett, who won her heart simply by being a true friend who saw her for who she really is.
  • Separated by the Wall: After Elle tells Emmett she's decided to drop out, Emmett tries to convince her to reconsider before Elle locks herself in her room. They sing the final verse of "Legally Blonde" separated by the dorm room door, as Emmett begs Elle to stay. They both lay a hand against the door, expressing a desire to reach out to each other, but this is a BSoD Song and Elle won't open the door and actually reach out in this moment.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Brooke won't reveal the details of her alibi getting liposuction, the knowledge of which she claims would kill her fitness empire resulting in a long and convoluted trial that nearly resulted in Elle returning home with her spirit crushed, and Brooke herself nearly sentenced to death for murder. At the end, when Elle proves that Chutney killed Brooke's husband, Brooke gets lost in the heat of the moment and ecstatically declares that now "no one will need to know I had lipo on my thighs!"—in front of a crowded room of people (including reporters) thus rendering the whole reason for the trial, and everything Elle did to prove her innocent, rather pointless. The Greek Chorus reassure her that they love her anyway.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Paulette is 100% sold on Emmett as a good match for Elle the very first time she meets him, when he brings her two-in-one shampoo (which horrifies Elle) as a Christmas gift. Later, she tells Elle that she's seen the way he looks at her, clearly not believing Elle when she insists that he's just her friend.
    • Elle returns the favor by encouraging Paulette to go after Kyle, even though she thinks he's way out of her league.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Music Man.
      Emmett: Class of aught-five, represent!
    • When Paulette sees the Delta Nu Greek Chorus, she remarks, "I see dead people!"
    • Vivienne makes a comment about there being 'girls going wild' without Elle somewhere.
    • The brief sequence in "Omigod You Guys!" where Margo interprets Bruiser's barking to determine that Elle's in trouble is a pretty clear reference to Lassie.
    • Callahan’s “But I don’t speak MTV” feels like one in the pro-shot version, which was filmed and broadcast by MTV.
  • Sidekick Song: "Ireland" is one big, bombastic excuse for Orfeh (or whoever's playing Paulette) to get up and show off.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Warner is convinced that he's in for a successful law career and will become a senator by the time he's thirty. Ultimately though, he proves to be fairly useless, being the only law team member who makes no contribution to winning the case, and he winds up dropping out.
  • 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.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Elle's looks not only result in her professor hitting on her (and then doing his best to destroy her career when she refuses him), but also in absolutely everyone — with the sole exception of Emmett, and including Elle herself — assuming she's nothing more than a pretty face. The line "some girls were just meant to smile" from "Legally Blonde" is absolutely heartbreaking in this context.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: One of Elle's sorority sisters can talk to Elle's chihuahua.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Vivienne's name is spelled as "Vivian" in the movie's credits, while spelled "Vivienne" in the musical's credits.
  • 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.
    Elle: Some girls fight hard, some face the trial, some girls were just meant to smile...
  • Straw Feminist: Enid (albeit jokingly) considers a man who murders a nun and runs over puppies to be a "typical man" and declares that only women have the guts to fix the country.
  • Tenor Boy: Emmett is the show's Nice Guy Love Interest, and suitably gets his share of sweet high notes.
  • That Came Out Wrong: After Emmett gets the pool boy to come out as gay on the stand, Callahan commends him for "nailing the pool boy." This makes Warner chuckle.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding:
    • Warner sees Callahan petting Elle and assumes Elle slept her way into the internship. Noticeably, Elle doesn't bother explaining it to him later, likely due to a combination of her being too broken and no longer being romantically interested in Warner. While never explicitly stated, later events heavily imply he found out the truth.
    • In contrast with Warner, Elle immediately tells her actual Love Interest Emmett what happened as soon as she sees him and he pledges to fight for her. There's still conflict here, but only because Elle refuses to stay and Emmett pleads with her to change her mind, with neither party having any anger for each other.
  • This Is Reality: Emmett chews out Elle for keeping Brooke's alibi a secret by declaring, "This isn't a Lifetime original movie!"
  • Timmy in a Well: Spoofed during the opening. Bruiser's barks are interpreted as saying that Elle is trapped in the Old Valley Mill. It's quickly revealed that he's saying the Old Valley Mall.
  • 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. Plus, it's clear that she and Emmett work well together and are great friends, not just lovers.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • After acting like a total Alpha Bitch to her earlier, Vivienne realizes that Elle is actually a strong woman in her own right, convinces her to go back to the trial and fight, and later speaks highly of Elle as both a peer and friend when they graduate.
    • Enid begins the show being somewhat of an obnoxious Straw Feminist and pretty rude to Elle. Later however, she warms up to Elle and helps Vivienne in getting her out of a Heroic BSoD.
    • Downplayed with Warner. He's shown as a Jerkass near the beginning, and while he's never shown making amends with Elle or actually contributing during the trial, he does seem to learn humility and winds up having a greater appreciation for Elle, even trying to propose to her. While this could be chalked up to him now believing dating Elle makes him look good, he still takes her rejection alright and shows up to watch her graduate as valedictorian anyway, even though he dropped out of school.
  • Training from Hell: Brooke's workout regimen, as demonstrated in "Whipped Into Shape."
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • "Legally Blonde: Remix", sung by Vivienne of all people, where she encourages Elle to get back on the Brooke case instead of quitting.
    • Also, "Omigod You Guys" gets this twice, first as its own remix where the Greek Chorus joins in with Elle and the judge in celebrating the victory in Brooke's case, then at the very end of "Finale". A particularly striking example in that the original version that opens the show is mostly Played for Laughs due to the campiness, the Valley Girl lyrics, and the overall lack of taking things seriously, but the reprise (and ending) not only absolutely justify the song's title, the Bookended lyrics ("If there ever was a perfect couple/this one qualifies!") change to become entirely accurate, and heartwarming.
  • True Companions: Elle and her sorority sisters love each other and always support one another through the craziest of endeavors. Later, Elle, Emmett, Vivienne, Enid and Paulette stick together as close friends through the end of law school.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics: In order to catch Chutney in her lie, Elle asks the entire court to move to the bathroom where Chutney was allegedly showering when her father was killed. And they do.
  • Unkempt Beauty:
    • Emmett is fairly attractive and just needs a makeover to make that more obvious.
    • Paulette is not so much unkempt as she is lacking in confidence, which leads to not paying much attention to her looks.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Just like in the movie, none of Elle's clothes are re-used. This also means a lot of rapid costume changes for the lead, which is helped by all the dresses being fastened by magnets, making them easily removable.
  • Uptown Girl: Elle comes from a very privileged background, and her family is rich enough that when she gets into Harvard on her own merits, they're able to pay the entire cost out-of-pocket. She winds up with Emmett, who grew up in a slum and had to work two jobs in addition to his college classes just to make ends meet.
  • Villain Song: "Blood in the Water" establishes Callahan's callous slimeball nature.
  • Visual Pun: At one point, "love" is literally in the air, thanks to "the new perfume by Chanel".
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The story jumps forward a few years in time during the finale to Elle's graduation from Harvard, so Paulette narrates one of these to fill the audience in on what's happened to all of the main characters. Enid practices family law; Vivienne is training for the Peace Corps; Warner quits law school and enjoys a successful career as a model; Callahan ran for governor but lost and his wife left him (while also hiring Emmett to handle their divorce); and Paulette married Kyle and had two kids (with another on the way), opening a new salon. While not spelled out in the same way, it also becomes evident that Elle and Emmett have started a relationship at some point when she ends her valedictorian speech by getting down on one knee and proposing to him, which he happily accepts.
  • World of Ham: If every single member of the cast (except Emmett, and even he gets in on it at times) 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 makes Warner get him coffee, even though they're drinking champagne, just to hammer in how useless Warner is.
  • You No Take Candle: Nikos and Carlos, on account of being European. Somewhat justified for Carlos because it's in song and proper English phrasing would break meter.
    Carlos: This man is gay and European!
    And neither is disgrace.
    You've got to stop your bein'
    A completely closet case!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Legally Blonde The Musical


Delta Nu arrives

As Elle laments her boyfriend moving on to Vivienne, she imagines her former sorority girls as a greek chorus.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreekChorus

Media sources: