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Posts Tagged ‘harvard’

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Still Alice is the heartbreaking tale of Alice Howland, a Harvard professor with a loving husband and three children, who is diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimers Disease at the age of (almost) 50. Although told in the third person, the story is told from Alice’s point of view and it really is heartrending as we witness her memories and cognitive functions degenerate further and further. Her husband, children and colleagues also have to come to terms with losing the woman they love, even though she is still there physically.

Earlier this year, my beautiful, outgoing and vibrant mother-in-law passed away at the age of 67 years, after living for several years with Alzheimers, so this book was in many ways hard to read. I saw first hand what it was like to see someone change from a loving and capable adult into the shell of who they once were, not recognising her own children and displaying vicious behaviour which would have once horrified her. Certainly I recognised from first hand experience certain behaviours described in the book, and it is clear that the author very seriously researched the disease and the effects it can have.

I felt that the writing itself flowed very well, and it was a compelling and absorbing book, difficult as the subject matter is. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has a loved one living with Alzheimers as I think it would give an understanding of what their family member or friend is going through.

I liked that although Alice was losing parts of herself bit-by-bit, she still had a distinctive personality and was still depicted as a fully fleshed out character – that she was, as the title conveys, still Alice.

As sad as this book was, I loved it. It was beautifully written and I would urge others to read it. I will definitely be looking out for more books by Lisa Genova.

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legallyblonde

This show is based on, and remains faithful to the 2001 film Legally Blonde, which starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. For anyone who is not familiar with the story, sassy Elle Woods is dumped by boyfriend Warner when he goes to study at Harvard, as he feels that Elle is too frivolous for him and he needs a serious girlfriend in order to be taken seriously himself.

Not to be defeated by this setback, Elle decides that she too will enrol at Harvard and win him back. She faces all sorts of challenges when she gets there; classmates consider her to be blonde bimbo and mock her love of fashion (“pink is my signature colour”), and her tutor Professor Callahan doesn’t take her seriously either. She finds a friend in Emmett, an older student who now works for Callahan, and who is the only person who really seems to believe in Elle.

When a murder case comes along and Callahan decides that his best and brightest students will help him defend the accused, Elle must step up to the challenge and prove to those who have misjudged her, just what she is capable of…

I really liked the film and wasn’t sure how it would translate into a musical, but I did expect a lot of fun, and that is exactly what this production was. Lucie Jones was adorable as Elle, and a perfect choice for the part, with a lovely voice. She really had the audience on side from the first scene. I also really liked David Barrett as Emmett. Liam Doyle was very funny as Warner, and I also thought Bill Ward was great as Callahan. For me though, Rita Simons absolutely stole every scene she was in as Elle’s friend and confidante Paulette.

The musical has an original score, so I didn’t know any of the songs, but they were all catchy, and accompanied by some very high energy dancing by the young cast. There was LOTS of pink in this show, with the whole cast wearing pink in the finale. Just like the film, there were some genuinely hilarious moments, beautifully played by the entire cast. For good measure, there were also two dogs in this production – Bruisey the Chihuahua, who is a permanent cast member on this tour, playing Elle’s dog Bruiser. Paulette’s bulldog Rufus is cast from local dogs at every stop on the tour, and in this production, the dog playing the part was simply aDORable!!

Overall, I highly recommend this show – I honestly don’t think anyone could come away from it without a huge smile on their face!

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Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a pretty and popular blonde sorority queen.  She is stunned when her boyfriend dumps her because he needs “a Jackie, not a Marilyn.”  She decides that the only way to get him back is to go to Harvard Law School – where he is also going – so he can see that she is proper ‘wife material’.  Elle amazes everyone by getting into Harvard, but once there, she finds that a ditzy blonde with a love of fashion is not going to be very popular – and she will have to work hard, not just at her studies, but at fitting in and making friends.  And will it all be worth it in the end?  Will she get her boyfriend back?

Reese Witherspoon is a great actress and really shines in romantic comedies. Here, she plays the part of Elle to perfection, and makes the audience root for her all the way.  Able support is given by Luke Wilson (adorable as the only real friend she makes at Harvard) and Jennifer Coolidge, as Elle’s beautician. (Connelly, who I often find quite annoying, was great in this film).  Selma Blair also shines as Elle’s love rival.

The only scene which didn’t work for me is the ‘bend and snap’ scene, where Elle teaches a number of women in a beauty salon how to do a move which will make men find them irresistibly attractive.  However, I can certainly forgive one slightly dodgy scene in an otherwise good film.

The ending is pretty predictable, but the film is no less enjoyable for that.  The charisma of the main actress carries the audience along, and this is a movie that left me with a big smile on my face.  I’m certainly not surprised that this was popular enough to become a hit musical stage show.

Year of release: 2001

Director: Robert Luketic

Writers: Amanda Brown (book), Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith

Main cast: Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Coolidge

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