New York Times Legally Blonde

Among the branded musicals inspired by Broadway`s Hollywood hits in recent years, “Legally Blonde” is better than most when it comes to replicating the essence of its model. (MGM`s film division that produced the film is also one of the producers here.) Certainly, Heather Hatch`s book increases, sometimes to the point of vulgarity, the caricature of a work that was hardly subtle from the start. And it further simplifies the characters who were already caricatures. MTV, Monday night at 10 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time; 9 Central Time. This state of willpower makes Elle appear less brilliant and not just superficial, a distinction that was made quite cleanly the first time, as well as the gentle stupidity that blondes were a slandered minority. The sequel makes the soft variations of a theme so obvious that it`s as much a children`s movie as anything else, despite the hoochy-riffy dance act in the Senate designed to get Congress to support Elle`s anti-cruelty amendment, which she calls Bruiser`s bill. “Legally Blonde 2” is rated PG-13 for certain wild allusions that parents should explain to their children on the long ride home — or avoid. You see, “Legally Blonde” allows a girl to have it all.

She can play Bimbo while admiring bimbos of the opposite sex. She can wear pink as if it were navy blue. And while she knows that appearance isn`t everything, she also knows that it matters a lot. Hence a makeover sequence in which Mr. Borle goes from academic geek to god of Greek companies. “Legal Blonde,” the musical, has Laura Bell Bundy, the kind of young woman who instantly evokes parental pride in middle age. In addition to her Prom Queen beauty, she sings and dances perfectly, delivering silly lines as if she meant them. Instead, “Blonde 2” repeats itself and uses the same material as the first film. The lively and happy She is mocked by the worldly and tired helpers of Rudd`s world, especially by the tough and rough Grace (Regina King).

So she has to exhaust them, conquer them and still find time to pass a law against cruelty to animals and her fiancé Emmett (Luke Wilson, who spends so much time this summer behind the DIY superwomen that he seems to audition for the role of Steve Trevor in a future version of “Wonder Woman”). Even the services of the show`s coaches and judges, including music director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell; its casting director, Bernard Telsey; and the author of her book, Heather Hach, will not fill that gap. (Owl Mr. Telsey is allowed to pronounce the dismissals: “Unfortunately, we just don`t see you as the next Elle Woods.”) music and lyrics by Laurence O`Keefe and Nell Benjamin; Book by Heather Hach, based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the film MGM; Direction and choreography: Jerry Mitchell; Music Director and Conductor, James Sampliner; Orchestration by Christopher Jahnke; arrangements by MM. O`Keefe and Sampliner; sets by David Rockwell; costumes by Gregg Barnes; lighting by Ken Posner and Paul Miller; Sound by Acme Sound Partners; Assistant Director, Marc Bruni; Associate choreographer, Denis Jones; CTO, Smitty/Theatersmith, Inc.; animal trainer William Berloni; Production Manager, Bonnie L. Becker; Executive Director, NLA/Maggie Brohn; Associate producers, PMC Productions, Yasuhiro Kawana and Andrew Asnes/Adam Zotovich. Presented by Hal Luftig, Fox Theatricals, Dori Berinstein, James L. Nederlander, Independent Presenters Network, Roy Furman, Amanda Lipitz, Broadway Asia, Barbara Whitman, FWPM Group, Hendel/Wiesenfeld, Goldberg/Binder, Stern/Meyer, Lane/Comley, Bartner-Jenkins/Nocciolino and Warren Trepp, in collaboration with MGM on Stage, Darice Denkert and Dean Stolber.

Produced for Fox Theatricals by Kristin Caskey and Mike Isaacson. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway; (212) 307-4100. Duration: 2 hours, 25 minutes. That may be necessary, given the steps that Mr. Mitchell is going through. Previously known as an exceptionally lively choreographer (“The Full Monty”, “La Cage aux Folles”, “Hairspray”), he made his directorial debut there. So it makes sense that “Legally Blonde” is a dance-oriented show. But it lacks the eccentricity and irresistible selfishness that a great heroine-adoring musical needs at its center. Imagine “Hello, Dolly!” with Shirley Jones instead of Carol Channing, and you`ll get the idea. “Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde,” the sequel to 2001`s “Legally Blonde,” is a movie for people who have managed to miss the point of the first frame, even the kind of material that makes the “b” subtle, as the old joke goes.

And old jokes are really what “Blonde 2” is about. Reese Witherspoon returns as Elle Woods, the tireless branch of a girl whose temperament is as sunny as her hair. Previously, he conquered Harvard Law School, a place in need of a new world order, and in the nominal sequence, he takes control of the dying legislature. The reliable Michael Rupert is very good as a stuffed silk shirt teacher who sings the law in Gilbert and Sullivan numbers that start promisingly but dry up. And Andy Karl is a hilarious Walking Sight gag as a tough delivery man in tight shorts to demonstrate that women also have the right to be wolf whistlers. WITH: Laura Bell Bundy (Elle Woods), Christian Borle (Emmett Forrest), Orfeh (Paulette), Richard H. Blake (Warner Huntington III), Kate Shindle (Vivienne Kensington), Nikki Snelson (Shandi/Brooke Wyndham) and Michael Rupert (Professor Callahan). Flossing between songs is recommended to anyone attending “Legally Blonde,” the non-stop sugar rush of a show that kicked off last night at the Palace Theater and joins the ranks of nearby candy worship temples such as M&M and Hershey`s theme stores. But that`s just kvetching. (Especially when the original musical premiered the week before the 25th.

It occupied only 63% of the Palace Theater`s seats.) These young hopefuls are, of course, better suited than Ms. Bundy for one thing, and that is getting women her age to watch a reality show. Based on the first episode, the gap between 27-year-old Ms. Bundy and the 10 fresh, sympathetic and easy hopefuls in “The Search for Elle Woods” average age of 22 is so large that we seem to observe two different types of musical theater. (Ms. Bundy is shown in excerpts from the musical and gives the finalists a short cheering lecture.) With its predominantly pink color palette (in David Rockwell`s luxury sets and Gregg Barnes` costumes) and cherry soda score paired with empowering ballads (by Lawrence O`Keefe and Nell Benjamin), “Legally Blonde” is infused with the message on every level that it`s okay to be a princess. This is a show aimed at girls who flocked to the fairytale blockbuster “Wicked” but were secretly disappointed that it was the dark, green-skinned Elphaba who got the guy, not the glittering and popular Glinda. At the end of the film, when Mrs.