Book: Heather Hach
Director and Choreographer: Anthony Williams
Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Reviewer: Scarlet Wildhorn
Legally Blonde the Musical opens with members of the Delta Nu sorority, mid-workout on bicycles, as they hear the news that their President, Elle Woods is soon to be engaged to the eligible and extremely dashing, Warner Huntington III. The use of bicycles is innovative and very effective, establishing this production apart from its predecessors from the off, setting the high-energy pace sustained throughout. The set (Jon Harris, Jason Bishop, David Shields) is bright, functional and fun. It works with the musical and is able to accommodate some fantastic choreography routines (Anthony Williams).
Lucie Jones, who recently represented the UK at the 2017 Eurovision song contest, portrays a feisty Elle, and with a voice that packs a punch, she excels in the role. Rita Simons as Paulette Bonafonté is superb. This is the first musical of her career but is better known for her role as Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders. She plays the character with just the right balance of confidence and longing; she is kind and very very funny. David Barrett as scruffy teaching assistant Emmett Forrest is perfectly awkward and loveable. There’s a solid performance from Liam Doyle as Warner Huntington III, but it was Rufus, played on this occasion by Stanley the bulldog (a different dog at each venue) who stole the show when he decided to make his debut earlier than expected, receiving the biggest round of applause in the house.
The luminescent skipping ropes during Whipped Into Shape make for an impressive and dynamic opener to Act 2, a great routine that Helen Petrovna as fitness queen Brooke Wyndham absolutely nails. There’s also a giant Irish flag, which, like much of the show, is over the top and totally extravagant – but the audience loved it. And it’s great to see the pride flags being waved at the end of There! Right There!
There are subtle changes in direction which alter the narrative slightly, but for the better. For example, Emmett’s confession at the end of Act 2 is given directly to Elle, not to himself as in previous incarnations of the musical. The songs we know and love remain incredibly catchy, while this production sees a Legally Blonde remix to close the show, extending the running time somewhat.
Legally Blonde the Musical is based on the real-life experiences of novelist Amanda Brown and is a feel-good story of empowerment and the value of remaining true to yourself against the odds. Receiving a full standing ovation, this is a high energy and thoroughly enjoyable production that breathes new life into the musical. It is a definite crowd pleaser and a guilty pleasure for the whole family.
Runs until 7 October 2017 | Image: Contributed