Book: Heather Hach
Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Director: Anthony Williams
Reviewer: Natasha Hegarty
Omigod you guys! Legally Blonde has arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre on a bright pink cloud, bringing with it plenty of prep, lots of laughs and a brilliant wardrobe. The musical, adapted from the 2001 hit film starring Reece Witherspoon, is fun from beginning to end and has a score that will have you tapping your toes throughout. With a book by Amanda Brown based on her own experience as a blonde in law school, the plot really has a lot of heart.
Delta Nu sorority sister and fashion major, Elle Woods, applies to the prestigious Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner (Liam Doyle) who, it transpires, has dumped her for serious and sensible Vivienne (Laura Harrison). Being a blonde at law school is tough and Elle battles with prejudice and sleazy professors to try and succeed where everyone thinks she will fail.
Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin have penned a really catchy score with Omigod You Guys and Bend and Snap among those which will have you grinning and nodding along. There are many big numbers, helped along by Elle’s personal Greek Chorus who frequently appear to offer their support.
Once Elle arrives at Harvard the huge and ever-changing set immediately transports you to autumn in Massachusetts; with beautiful outdoors backdrops contrasting with the historic-looking Harvard classrooms and courts. Choreographers Dean Street and Anthony Williams, give the cast a lot to do and it is mostly successful – for example, with the very impressive Whipped into Shape, which is rather exhausting to watch. However, there are some numbers where the routines seem a bit outdated and not so slick, but as the show is so energetic, it doesn’t distract too much from the action.
The star-studded cast of names you’ll recognise are not simply there to get bums in seats, they really are super talented and more than capable of keeping up with full-on show. Fresh from her run as Maureen in the UK tour of Rent, Lucie Jones is fabulous as Elle. Not only has she got a big voice and great comic timing, but in numbers Serious and Legally Blonde, she proves she can tug on heartstrings too. She doesn’t drop character once and it is clear she has fully invested everything she has into the protagonist’s designer shoes and pink ensemble. Elle’s slow-burn love story with unlikely hero Emmett (David Barrett), is wonderful and the pair have great chemistry together. You really root for them to get a move on and fall in love.
Former EastEnders star, Rita Simons, plays Elle’s dippy beautician friend and mentor, Paulette, and she steals the show with her hilarious number Ireland and the later reprise – which has the audience in stitches. She has got a great voice too and really knits the cast together with her experience, commanding the stage in all her scenes as does ex-Coronation Street and Emmerdale actor Bill Ward as the arrogant Professor Callahan – though seeing him let loose in the final number is quite something. Look out for the two canine cameos too, as they really steal the show!
Elle is a strong woman who ultimately refuses to apologise for who she is and you will find yourself rooting for her, despite the initial introduction of her as a female stereotype following a man to the other side of the country. The plot is fun, if a little cheesy and at times a bit outdated, but if you can get over that you will have a great night out – and if you don’t leave the theatre humming Omigod You Guys, it will be a travesty. A joyful and quite inspiring musical – go and see it.
Runs Until 2 June 2018 and on tour | Image: Contributed