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Legally Blonde

Brianna Burgan (front) stars as Elle Woods in the Pershing Middle School production of “Legally Blonde the Musical.” (Credit: Brandon De Hoyos/

When UCLA student Elle Woods follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back in “Legally Blonde the Musical,” all hell breaks loose as her plan unravels at it’s hot pink seams. With sexual references, alcohol use, and off-color jokes, the show mirrors the 2001 film of the same name.

But, when the musical opened on Broadway in 2007, they probably never imagined how it might play on the academic stage, as it was in all it’s glory this past weekend at Houston’s Pershing Middle School.

That’s the magic of theater, however: suspended disbelief. And the actors of Pershing nailed it.

Sure, in lieu of ‘beer,’ Warner might have quipped he was going to get more ‘milk’ during a party scene, and a particularly risky line in “So Much Better” was handled with such finesse you wouldn’t have recognized it if you weren’t familiar with the Broadway musical. But, the spirit of the story survives.

Alongside music performed live by Michael Mertz, David Lerner and Marie Bennett, the student actors showed impressive strengths, especially chorally.

Brianna Burgan, in the role of protagonist Woods, was the right choice. Where Burgan lacks in actual collegiate experience, she inhabits the role with the innocence of a middle school student. It is that innocence that added realistic depth to the otherwise naive Elle, who chases Warner cross-country and straight into law school.

In the role of Paulette, Halle Tims shines. She sings, she acts (and I mean it, she acts well), and her comedic timing is flawless. I was sold on her portrayal of Paulette the moment we meet her in her salon. Tims possesses a real opportunity to grow in this profession, if she wants it bad enough.

Joining Tims in a theatrical future should be Rory Leech, who was not just playing the ruthlessly bigoted Callahan, he was Callahan. With the dramatic gait and presence of an attorney, Leech’s performance would have put a smile on Victor Garber‘s face, who established the role in the film. Perhaps the best performance of the entire show.

Kudos to the triumvirate formed by Samantha Goldenberg, Sara Levine, and Emma Loden, who did justice as Elle’s friends Margot, Serena and Pilar, respectively, the Greek Chorus of ‘Legally Blonde.’ Claire Schwarze deserves recognition, likewise.

Brenna Price shoots real daggers towards Elle in her performance as Vivian, alongside Jack Abbott in the role of arrogant Warner. Abbott, as comedic foil, delivered in “Serious,” the show’s second number.

Directed by Debbie Broadhead, the entire cast and crew should be proud of their work–and should keep pushing the envelope to deliver great theater, as it was.


Arts Club in the Schools is the first in an on-going series of reviews aimed at the performing arts in Houston area schools. The goal is to offer positive, constructive feedback for student performances, and encourage student participation in theater and the fine arts.

Arts Club in the Schools: ‘Legally Blonde’ Shines at Pershing Middle  was originally published on