Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Director & Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Reviewer: Holly Spanner
The Public Reviews Rating:
Elle Woods (Faye Brookes) is the president of Delta Nu sorority with a 4.0 average in fashion merchandising and is the most popular girl in school. She has the perfect life, that is, until her boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Gareth Gates) dumps her for someone who is “less of a Marilyn and more of a Jackie”. Devastated but determined, Elle vows to win him back by following him to Harvard Law School where she plans to impress him with her high IQ. Facing prejudice from her fellow classmates for her blonde hair and signature pink attire, she must find the courage (and a significant amount of knowledge) to prove everyone wrong and break the stereotype. With the help of teaching assistant Emmett Forrest (Iwan Lewis), salon owner Paulette Buonufonte (Rhona McGregor) and Greek Chorus (Sinead Long, Sophie Isaacs and Micha Richardson), she discovers how law can help the underdog, and finds a new passion.
The stage set whilst not as impressive as the recently closed London production, still manages to capture the tension of the courtroom, the comfort of Elle’s bedroom and the excitement of the department store. Coloured lighting around the edge of the stage forms something almost like a picture frame which moves to denote the borders, changing the dimensions of the stage and the focus of the audience’s attention.
The choreography on the whole is excellent. However, as the opening number Omigod You Guys lacked the imposing Sorority Hall features of the London production, the choreography needed to make up for this. Without this back drop it doesn’t have as much dynamism, and feels like an opportunity missed. The skipping routine during Whipped into Shape is a fantastic sequence for the opening of the second act, setting the pace for the remainder of the show. Vigorous and energetic, the speed of the routine increases into a frenzy of jumping, dancing and technical skipping towards the end of the song, which no doubt would be a bestselling exercise video.
Gareth Gates, who joined the company in July, has settled in perfectly as the arrogant yet charming Warner Huntington III. Following the success of Pop Idol in 2001, he has exploded onto the musical theatre scene in the last few years and is a great piece of casting. With a superb rendition of Serious early on, he sets the bar high, reacting well and with well-placed humour to other cast members in ensemble numbers such as There! Right There!
Unfortunately, Jennifer Ellison was unable to perform, so the role of salon owner Paulette fell to Rhona McGregor at this performance. However, do not be disappointed by this. Sharp minded but gentle and kind, McGregor shines in the role and is a treat to watch.
One of the real strengths of this production, are the supporting members of the cast. Lewis Griffiths, who plays Kyle, Chad and Dewey, is exceptional. As Kyle, he struts in a way you may imagine walking on water to look, while as Dewey he is transformed into a completely different and vicious personality. So much so, you would be forgiven for thinking they are different actors. Sophie Isaacs is on top form with an excellent portrayal of Greek Chorus member Margot, as she gets to show off her dancing ability and comedic timing to great effect.
A special mention must go to the two smallest actors, the pups who play Rufus the Bulldog and Bruiser the Chihuahua. Beautifully behaved and speaking on command, they manage to capture the attention of the entire audience every time they are on stage.
Legally Blonde is a colourful, fun, feel good show about self-empowerment and disproving the stereotype. An entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable evening out.
Runs until 25th August 2012.
Tags: Brooke Wyndham, Bruiser, Cardiff Millennium Centre, Chad, Chihuahua, Delta Nu, Dewey, Elle Woods, Gareth Gates, Greek Chorus, Kyle, Legally Blonde, Lewis Griffiths, Margot, Omigod You Guys, Paulette Buonufonte, Rhona McGregor, Rufus, Sinead Long, Skipping, Sophie Isaacs, There! Right There!, UPS Guy, Warner Huntington III, Whipped into Shape