Oh my god you guys, Legally Blonde The Musical has hit Milton Keynes Theatre after touring the UK since September. I’ve been watching all my friends see it up and down the country, and it’s about time that it was my turn! Especially since I missed Sheridan Smith’s Olivier award-winning run at the Savoy Theatre in 2010.
Making its Broadway premiere 10 years ago, with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, you know you’re due a fun night ahead of you, as its been giving people since its conception. Legally Blonde The Musical is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 movie of the same name which we all know and love, and follows Elle Woods as she embarks on a journey from a Malibu sorority girl to Harvard Law School. After being dumped by long-term boyfriend, Warner, Elle is determined to win him back by proving that she is the wife material he’s looking for. But through her experience of not fitting in, she learns that its important to be true to yourself over anybody else.
Lucie Jones plays as happy-go-lucky Elle, a role she’s played previously. Whilst her vocal performance was a spectacular, I didn’t truly believe that she was 22 year-old Elle. I needed someone a little more cutesy, a little less ballsy but still someone confident of her abilities. The humour was a little lost in a number of places and she somehow simultaneously undersold and oversold herself; I’m not entirely sure how it happened.
I had no idea what to expect from Rita Simons as Legally Blonde The Musical is her stage debut, but her performance as Paulette was stunning. She had fun with the role, clearly loved the character and had a heck of a set of pipes on her. Ireland is one of the more heart-wrenching songs in the production, and I genuinely believed every word she was saying. She combined the fun of Jennifer Coolidge’s role in the movie with Orfeh’s realism in the original Broadway cast, and it was brilliant.
David Barrett‘s performance of friend and confidante, Emmett Forrest, was exactly what I wanted from the role. He played Emmett with a depth that the film version was lacking; rather than just being smitten with Elle, he felt like a genuine friend without being cocky. I really loved seeing a sensitive side to Emmett. Bill Ward was an oddly charming Professor Callahan in this version of the musical, and it was almost difficult to believe he could be so sleazy. We were all lulled into a false sense of security around him, making his betrayal all the more heartbreaking to watch. Liam Doyle played a confident Warner Huntington III who, aside from Rita Simons, had the best comedic timing in the show and was definitely underutilised.
Unfortunately what let the performance down was the ensemble. The ensemble were obviously a little tired, with this being their 8th month on the road, and lacked a little bit of the energy that the likes of the Greek Chorus needed. There were also a few obvious mistakes in some of the choreography which were a little disappointing to see, but you can’t deny the talent of the cast.
The stand-out number of the production was Gay Or European (although can anybody please explain why this has had a name change from There, Right There?) with spot-on choreography and not a finger out of place. The auditorium sprung to life at this critical moment of the plot, with rapturous applause for every number that followed. This number alone is worth the cost of a ticket.
Aside from the cast performances themselves, I feel like the set was a little juvenile as far as national tours go. I wasn’t wowed by many of the technical aspects compared to other productions making the rounds at the moment. The costumes looked particularly dated, and definitely not the most flattering under stage lighting – I think we need to go back to the drawing board with these ones and make them a little more friendly on the eyes.
Whilst there were obvious flaws in the production, with tiredness probably to blame, Legally Blonde The Musical is definitely worth a visit. It’s fun, it’s smart, it’s sassy, and above all else, it’s noughties comedy at its finest. This production combined the Broadway and London productions, rather than picking just one side giving a real crowd pleaser that had me – the girl who it takes a lot to give a standing ovation nowadays – on my feet dancing along at the end. If you want a good night out at the theatre and can look past the slightly shaky first act (a huge shame since this act contains two of my personal favourite numbers – Chip On My Shoulder and So Much Better), you’ve got to catch Legally Blonde The Musical at your local theatre. Try to resist singing along to the megamix at the end – I dare you!
Legally Blonde The Musical is playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until 2nd June, before continuing its UK tour.