Legally Blonde (Musical Theatre Review)

Legally Blonde is one of those seminal teenage comedies, part of a long tradition that includes everything from Heathers to Clueless to Mean Girls. Unsurprisingly then, three out of those four films have since been turned into successful musicals. (Where is the Clueless musical?! Last we heard it was in workshop phase in 2017…)

Since it first premiered on Broadway in 2007, Legally Blonde has become a popular touring staple, and over ten years on this production still seems to have an enthusiastic and captive audience. It follows the story of Sorority sweetheart Elle Woods, played here by the brilliant Lucie Jones. We first meet Elle on the eve of what she suspects to be a proposal from her preppie boyfriend Warner (Liam Doyle). But when he tells her it’s “time to get serious” and leaves her for a new life (and new type of girlfriend) at Harvard Law, Elle refuses to let that be the end of her dream.

Jones is great fun to watch as Elle. She plays the role with just the right amount of sweet naivety and spunky sass, and has really made the character her own. Unlike many ‘star castings’ Jones proves she has bags of musical theatre skill – evident from her turn as Maureen in the recent 20th anniversary tour of Rent, but cemented even further here. It is a huge sing, and she is note-perfect, and is able to guide the show skilfully. The audience immediately warm to her. Ably supported by David Barrett as kindly TA Emmett, the pair have an incredibly sweet chemistry and help give the production heart.

Indeed, the entire ensemble is working incredibly hard. Unlike some touring shows, there is a real sense that care and attention has been lavished on this show. The choreography is precise, clever and entertaining and backed up by some thought behind each character. It’s always an utter joy to watch an ensemble genuinely enjoying themselves and relishing in the challenge of creating several interesting characters each – even if only for one scene! In particular Lucyelle Cliffe and Mark Peachy have a seemingly endless number of costume and character changes – and each is rounded and layered. But they are by no means the only ones. I genuinely think this is one of the hardest working ensembles I have seen for quite some time. Director and Choreographer Anthony Williams should be incredibly proud.

On top of that, the level of detail in the set, costume and props is admirable. The costume in particular, from designer Elizabeth Dennis, is such fun to look at. The clever costumes of Elle’s Delta Nu sisters and their change from Sorority House chic, to Greek Chorus whites, to ladies about town is such a fun progression. Colour is key, without being ‘simplified’. Even the orange prison garb of Brooke Wyndham (an incredibly whip-smart Helen Petrovna) is somehow fashionable and chic. It just adds an even more polished layer to this already enjoyable production.

I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this production, and it was evident from the extremely supportive audience that this production is a hit. Definitely one to catch whilst you can. Oh, and if you like tiny dogs, you’re in for a treat...!

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