Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Director &Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Jim Nicholson
The touring version of Legally Blonde is in pretty good shape. It may not have the scale, preciseness and overall quality of the West End version but the music and book will always win through with this show sending the punters home more than happy.
Lost is the sorority house wall and infrastructure but, although this slightly dampens the initial opening, the joy of the Laurence O’Keefe/Nell Benjamin songs soon take your mind off this as “Omigod You Guys” proves the first winner.
Throughout Heather Hach’s book is clever and witty and although predominantly “high jinx” there is still the odd “pang of the heart strings” and an undoubted message of underestimation that I am sure we have all encountered or been guilty of in our lifetimes.
Faye Brookes makes a decent Elle, but the “Jimmy Choos” of Sheridan Smith, the original West End “Little Miss Woods, Elle”, are very hard to even half fill and I think it is unfair to make a direct comparison. After all Smith even “out comedied” Broadways, thought of as untouchable, Laura Bell Bundy. Brookes is very believable in the rôle and certainly delivers a decent tune.
The major plus of the night for me though was the portrayal of Chad, Dewey and especially Kyle by Lewis Griffiths. He certainly out swaggered any previous Kyle I have had the privilege to see and the ladies around me were all agreed that this UPS guy really was “walking porn”.
So with Griffiths finding even more ways to titillate it is a shame that Les Dennis’s portrayal of Professor Callaghan appeared to lack the demeanor and authoritative presence to do justice to the rôle of the arrogant legal “wizard”. Without any fright or fear in the vocal delivery “Blood in the Water” lost much of its impetus.
But there are many highs along the way; Iwan Lewis catches the innocence, belief and sheer bloody mindedness of Emmett Forest. He also produces pretty good versions of “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Take It Like a Man”. Nike Evans is also at the top of her game as hairdresser Paulette and has some great scenes with Griffith’s including the fantastic Irish orientated “Legally Blonde Remix”.
Although Ray Quinn is a fairly laid back Warner Huntington the Third, his new love interest, Vivienne, is played with “eye catching” distinction by Tracey Penn.
The Greek Chorus of Serena (Sinead Long), Margot (Sophie Isaacs) and Pilar (Micha Richardson) spend plenty of time in the spotlight while Hannah Grover does great justice to fitness guru and alleged murderer Brooke Wyndham especially in the, all skipping, “Whipped Into Shape”.
There are not many better comedy numbers in musical theatre than, the courtroom based, “There! Right There!”, and the “Gay and European” top notch version featuring Zak Nemorin as Nikos and Antony Hewitt as Carlos hits all the right spots as always. But even these two are “out minced” on occasions by Jon Reynolds as, hairdressing assistant, Kiki.
Jerry Mitchell has certainly deserved the many awards he has picked up as director and choreographer of what is unquestionably a show of “valedictorian” stature.
Runs until 30th June