Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book: Heather Hach
Director: Anthony Williams
Reviewer: John Roberts
Legally Blonde is currently on week 40 of its current UK tour being produced by UK Productions. Overall this is a highly enjoyable and energetic version under the direction of Anthony Williams, which has plenty of original touches that separate it from past versions. It does, however, show signs of the past years’ worth of touring, the set looking a little worn and battered – a shame it didn’t get its own little makeover in its recent break from touring.
The musical premiered just over 11 years ago and its message of following your own heart and being yourself, is still as relevant today as it was back then, even the #MeToo message hits home arguably harder than ever before. But what makes Legally Blonde the success it is, is the tight integration between Heather Hach’s witty and sharp book alongside Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s catchy music and lyrics – so rare do these parts harmonise better than seen here.
Taking on the title role is Lucie Jones, who is no stranger to the role having played it previously at Leicester’s Curve in a different production, her confidence in the role shines brighter than her selection of bright pink costumes, she brings the house down with near perfect vocals and excellent comic delivery it’s hard to find fault with this powerhouse portrayal. Likewise, David Barrett’s journey as Emmett Forrest is a delight to watch. Soap stars Rita Simmons (Paulette) and Bill Ward (Professor Callahan) provide strong support, the former really coming into her own during Ireland, while Ward relishes the chance to shine with slimy salaciousness that you love to hate.
Liam Doyle as the handsome yet egotistical Warner Huntington III brings plenty to the role as does Laura Harrison’s strong and feisty portrayal as Vivienne Kensington. Hele Petrovna as the jailed fitness guru Brooke Wyndham delivers on all accounts especially her tightly choreographed rendition of Whipped Into Shape. It must also be noted that this production perhaps has one of the funniest versions of There! Right! There! That this reviewer has ever seen.
It must be noted that occasionally throughout the show, the harmonies do feel a little underpowered and weak in comparison to other vocals, which I am sure will be ironed out within the sound balance as the show runs at the Empire this week, but the music under James McCullagh’s baton sounds rich and full. Nev Milsom’s lighting design really comes into its own in the second act, but feels a little underwhelming throughout the first.
Anthony Williams’ production though, is a real hoot, he understands the tongue in cheek humour that underlies the show brilliantly and brings out the show’s bend and snap perfectly – despite a few issues – set being the main one and some scared animal performers – this is a cheeky revival that is sure to make you shout “Oh My God!” and snap your way out of the theatre at the end of the night!
Runs until 9 June 2018 | Image: Catherine Ashmore