New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 14 October 2017
Based on the hit 2001 film and Amanda Brown’s novel, Legally Blonde is light, fluffy entertainment with a warm heart. If there is a show that is guaranteed to lift the spirits, then Legally Blonde is certainly the musical to do that – with plenty of fun and enthusiasm.
Legally Blonde follows the story of Elle Woods who would do anything to win her ex-boyfriend Warner back – including following him to Harvard University, but soon discovers more about herself and what she is capable of than she expected with a little help from her friends along the way.
Based on the hit film, it would be easy to concerned whether or not the musical could capture the infectious spirit of the film – but thankfully due to the sparkling choreography and direction from Anthony Williams, this concern is swept away within minutes during the opening number ‘Omigod You Guys’.
It is a production that is consistently lively and energetic as numbers such as ‘There!Right There!’ and ‘Whipped into Shape’ prove, but still manages to avoid becoming a caricature by adding a strong emotional core as Elle struggles her way through Harvard.
However, it has to be said that the design and look of the production is a bit of a disappointment, with a huge amount of space for the cast to work with at times that can make them look lost on stage – a lot more could have been done. This can make the production feel flat in places and difficult to engage with the characters properly.
It is also difficult to understand the purpose of the mega-mix at the end of the show, but considering the audience really got into it and seemed to want to leave the theatre on an additional high – perhaps it was worth it.
The production also contains some lovely performances – not least Rebecca Stenhouse taking on the role of Elle as Lucie Jones was unwell. Her vocals were warm and stirred some real emotional impact as heard in ‘Legally Blonde’, while in terms of her character was smart not to make Elle ditzy but rather more naive and wanting to see the best in everyone. It was also really easy to like Rita Simons as Paulette, with her great sense of comic timing and decent vocals made it a likeable performance and has a great partnership with Stenhouse.
Meanwhile, Bill Ward was more than capable as the ruthless Professor Callahan – really highlighted during his rendition of ‘Blood in the Water’. While he is charismatic it is clear that underneath this, his character has a bit of swagger about him.
There is no denying that there is very little substance to this musical and the characterisations can be slightly over the top, but as a production there is a great energy and atmosphere that will leave you beaming at the end as well as making you feel a bit more positive in general. If you are in need of a boost, this is the show for you.