Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Book: Heather Hach
Director and Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
“OMIGOD you guys!” following on from its huge West End success, Legally Blonde The Musical is now wowing audiences all over the UK as part of its first national tour and last night burst open in Milton Keynes. A fast paced, high energy and colourful evening of great entertainment is enjoyed by all who attend. The touring production may have lost some of the scale and production that the West End show had, but there is no impact on the story or the superb songs.
Abandoned by boyfriend Warner Huntington III, the show follows Elle Woods as she tries to win him back by enrolling in the same law school, but in the end she wins something a lot more valuable – a sense of her own worth and abilities. It’s a classic fairytale of love and overcoming prejudged ideas.
Heather Hach’s well written book has allowed for some of the funniest lines you will hear in any musical. The show stopping moment of Dewey’s, a UPS delivery man, entrance with the line “I’ve Got A Package”, is a particular highlight with most of the ladies (and some of the men) in the audience. Though there is the great humour, Heather’s book also has a good pull at the audience’s heartstrings as you constantly feel the pain of the characters, especially Elle.
The tunes are highly enjoyable, in particular the courtroom number There! Right There! which is nothing short of genius on the parts of Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. After Elle is hit on and fired by Professor Callahan, the ballad and title song Legally Blonde is sung with great heart by Elle and Emmett. Elle then storms back with the help of friend and manicurist, Paulette, with the fantastic ensemble number, Legally Blonde Remix.
A fantastically designed set by Broadway designer David Rockwell makes the show a real visual treat, helped in part by the lighting, designed by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller. The superbly colourful (mainly pink) costumes are designed by Gregg Barnes, from short cheer leading outfits to lawyer suits and even a bunny outfit: the show’s costumes add greatly to its feel.
Amy Ross, as Elle, made the rôle her own for the night. She leads the show throughout and you would never guess that she was an understudy. She steals every scene, partly because of the bright pink she’s wearing for most of the time, but mainly due to her fine acting, singing and dancing. Iwan Lewis sings superbly as Emmett, who slowly works his charm on Elle, with his number, Chip On Your Shoulder. Gareth Gates brings no real strength as Warner and is outshone by Tracey Penn’s Vivenne in most scenes. Jennifer Ellison is a great Paulette and is clearly having a great time. Andy Mace is a superb Callahan.
Come the end of the night the entire audience roars their approval to a night of high entertainment. It’s a wonder that this show ever closed in the West End, a great shame but regional audiences will continue to enjoy Jerry Mitchell’s brilliant show.