Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book: Heather Hach
Director & Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Joan Phillips
The Public Reviews Rating:
OMIGOD this show has practically everything. From glee clubs, cheerleaders, fitness instructors and handbag sized Chihuahuas to a murder, Ivy League universities, law professors and even a Greek chorus. You have bought a ticket to the musical equivalent of Barbie goes to Harvard. If this makes you feel little apprehensive don’t worry, it really works. Settle down, give in and let the show take over and have a fantastically entertaining, fun and energy-fuelled evening.
The opening scene introduces us to the Malibu-world of pink fluff and feathers, slumber parties, and a troupe of cheerleaders dressed in the most kitsch outfits from Barbie’s wardrobe. The central character, Elle, is obsessed with appearances and her one aim is to marry Warren, her high school sweetheart. ButWarrenturns out to have other ideas. About to start at Harvard, he has ambitions to climb the social ladder through his new connections, leaving her heartbroken.
The story moves at a cracking pace. Elle decides that love is everything and to winWarrenback she has to follow him to Harvard. She discovers if she spends as much time studying law as she devotes to studying beauty and fashion she can give herself a complete makeover and keep up with the best of her fellow students – eventually. Along the way, she needs help from her new best friends, the unlikely combination of Paulette, a manicurist, and Emmett, her supervisor at Harvard.
It is a classic fairytale with some of the funniest lines on stage. It has all the gags about ditsy blondes and explodes our superficial expectations of these and intellectual elitism with superb wit. Elle’s father encourages her to stay in Malibu, “Why would you want to go to the East coast, all the girls have different noses.” They even manage an entertaining song about Harvard entrance exams that successfully rhymes LSAT scores, CV and the pope. One of the best songs, Gay or European, in the second act is pure pleasure. There are some of the best one liners and put downs from a blonde since Marilyn Monroe. It is a shame sometimes the music volume means you are in danger of missing a few lines and it does start off a little bit shrill but it gets better and better as the show progresses. The visual jokes are a treat and, judging by the audience reaction, much anticipated. The fit UPS guy has some thrilling packages to deliver and the costumes and choreography are great fun.
All the cast were great but particular mention has to go to Fay Brookes. You can’t take your eyes off her and it isn’t just the shocking pink outfits. Iwan Lewis plays Emmett and works his slow, awkward charm on Elle and the audience, winning us all over. Gareth Gates is a slimy Warren. Rhona McGregor has a blast standing in as Paulette. Andy Mace enjoys himself as the bad guy. The show finishes with a high-kicking pink finale, including the lawyers. Admittedly, the audience is probably 70% female but men and women roar their approval at the end.
Runs until Saturday 28th July.Legally Blonde – Theatre Royal, Plymouth,
Tags: Amanda Brown, Andy Mace, Fay Brookes, Gareth Gates, Harvard, Iwan Lewis, Jerry Mitchell, Laurence O'Keefe, Legally Blonde, Musical, Nell Benjamin, Plymouth, Rhona McGregor, Theatre, Theatre Royal, Theatre Royal Plymouth