Book: Heather Hach
Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Director: Anthony Williams
Reviewer: Lu Greer
Based on the 2001 film Legally Blonde the Musical follows Elle Woods as she gets into Harvard Law purely to win back an ex-boyfriend. What could easily be an uncomfortable story of a girl who’s only ambition is love, is instead the story of a woman who works hard, embraces the bumps in the road, and proves that walking your own path is always the best way (as long as you do it in fashionable heels).
Elle Woods quickly became an iconic character thanks to Reece Witherspoon’s portrayal of her in the original film, and the bar was raised yet higher with the likes of Sheridan Smith and Laura Bell Bundy taking on the roll in the West End and on Broadway. It is a daunting role, then, for Lucie Jones to take on for the UK tour. Jones makes the character her own, bringing out Elle’s positivity and tenacity, as well as some excellent comedic timing, alongside an outstanding voice. Jones’ only issue comes in the dance numbers when it becomes clear that her strength is in her singing and she occasionally looks out of step among the ensemble.
Acting as Elle’s mentor, and Jones’ co-star, Rita Simons takes on the role of Paulette the hairdresser in a performance that is, of course, particularly memorable during the Bend and Snap song. Simons’ voice has a depth that livens up a now extremely familiar song, and she bounces off of Jones well during their back-and-forths. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the stars of the show (after the dogs, of course) is David Barrett as Emmett. While his voice is of the same high quality as the rest of the cast, it is the depth and sincerity he brings to a sea of candyfloss pink that sets him apart. Emmett’s background, his emotion, and his feelings are evident throughout Robyn’s performance and create a character that the audience genuinely cares for.
Legally Blonde the film will turn twenty in a couple of years’ time, and unfortunately, in the musical, its age is starting to show through the glitter, at times. There are pop culture references which should have been updated as times change, and dialogue which sounds outdated. Sometimes, the sets and costumes seem to be feeling their age as well, along with the choreography, where at one time they would have been sharp and on point they now feel like a reminder of the past. There is also a fine line to be trodden in a show such as this, which should be championing a woman and her power. It does this successfully through most of the show with Elle showing the men around her exactly what she’s made of, but at its heart, it’s still a show about a woman purely responding to the men in her life, and Bend and Snap while a classic song, has begun to feel a little uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, this is not a serious show, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s the story of a woman learning, growing, and changing, without losing sight of who she is. And it’s a story that’s told with comedic timing, stellar voices, and stand out songs.
Legally Blonde doesn’t offer anything new. It’s a little worn around the edges. But ohmigod you guys – I totally promise you’ll leave smiling and singing.
Runs Until: 31st of March, 2018 | Image: Contributed