Venue: Churchill Theatre Bromley
Credits: Music & Lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe & Nell Benjamin. Book by Heather Hach. Based on the novel by Amada Brown. Produced by UK Productions.
Performance Date: 18/09/2017
Paul Johnson | 19 Sep 2017 14:43pm
Legally Blonde The Musical – Rita Simons 2nd left (Paulette) Lucie Jones centre (Elle) Laura Harrison 3rd from right (Vivienne). Photo: Robert Workman
Bromley has been smothered in pink this week as Elle Woods sweeps into town for UK Productions’ brand-new nationwide tour of Legally Blonde the Musical. Amanda Brown’s tale of how Delta Nu’s sorority queen beat the odds to follow the man of her dreams to Harvard Law School was first made famous in 2001’s blockbuster movie starring Reece Witherspoon, before finding itself adapted for the musical stage in 2007 – first opening on Broadway followed by the West End production two years later starring Sheridan Smith.
This year’s new tour stars our most recent Eurovision entrant, Lucie Jones, as Elle Woods, Rita Simons (EastEnders) as beautician Paulette Bonafonté, and Coronation Street and Emmerdale’s Bill Ward as billionaire lawyer Professor Callahan. Interestingly, while Jones takes on the same role for the second time in two years, this is Simons’ first musical theatre outing ever – not a bad way to shake off Roxy Mitchell’s watery grave.
Of the trio, in the production’s opening week it is probably Rita Simons who actually impresses most. Not alien to singing – she used to be in a girl band, Girls@Play, prior to EastEnders – Simons not only brings a gorgeously comic side to Elle’s salon confident, but has an impressive vocal to boot. Paulette’s famous ‘bend and snatch’ routine with Elle is very funny, as is her Irish infatuation with self-loving UPS driver, Kyle (Ben Harlow). Indeed the whole show plays heavily on the comedy side with Jones’ body language and reactions also providing plenty of laugh-out-loud moments throughout.
Indeed the power of this show is in how much ‘story’ is packed into the piece; from Elle’s sorority life with her Delta Nus… to following her boyfriend Warner to Harvard… to proving that she’s not a ‘dumb blonde’… to taking on her first murder case… to befriending Paulette and coming to her aid on more than one occasion. Lucie Jones told us she’d play Elle for the rest of her life if she could, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Ignoring a few teething problems, such as a couple of shaking sets and the odd actor seen changing behind scenery wrongly presuming they were out of sight, the new show is a strong one that embraces the pink, fluffy spirit of Elle’s world. UK Productions’ new cartoon-like set design also fits nicely in with the style of Anthony Williams’ direction and choreography.
Bill Ward, who is arguably the most experienced actor onstage, does well as Callahan hiding the powerful lawyer’s dark side well until the latter scenes, in fact Williams has put together some great courtroom moments as Callahan’s team attempt to get (who turns out to be…) Elle’s fellow Delta Nu ‘sister’, Brooke Wyndham, off a murder charge. As fitness guru, Brooke, Helen Petrovna and ensemble must be commended for some eye-poppingly complex and difficult skipping-rope choreography which is made to look far too easy. Indeed, the whole ensemble prove themselves worthy throughout with endless energy, not least Elle’s Delta Nu bunch of friends.
Of course the biggest reaction of the night is reserved for the two dogs, firstly Elle’s tiny (and I mean tiny) Chihuahua, Bruiser… who Anthony Williams and producer Martin Dodd have collectively specially bought specially for the production; and secondly Paulette’s bulldog, Rufus, who will be played by a different dog at each stop of the show’s UK tour. In fact Rita Simons told me that if she could work with dogs instead of people she would be happy.
Legally Blonde has been extensively produced by the amateur market over the last few of years. This production would indeed fill many a future society with plenty of ideas and inspiration, so what are you waiting for!? It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of pink, and it’s… well… Oh, my God!
Legally Blonde the Musical is at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre until Saturday, 23rd September before touring. More HERE
Legally Blonde The Musical – Bill Ward (Professor Callahan). Photo: Robert Workman
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- : 18/09/2017