New Victoria Theatre, Woking (UK Tour)
15 October 2017
UK Tour Schedule
I was a huge fan of Legally Blonde the musical when it played at the Savoy Theatre many years ago. Not knowing anything about the show apart from the title of its opening number, I confess, I had written it off as yet another cheap movie adaptation and did not expect all that much. What I encountered was a revelation! Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s vivacious score combined with Heather Hach’s book was the solid foundation upon which Jerry Mitchell built a fast-paced and heart-felt musical. I was as pleased as punch that this new touring production staged by Director/Choreographer Anthony Williams with co-choreographer Dean Street and produced by Martin Dodd has kept Legally Blonde as exciting and compelling as I remembered it.
A few scant traces of that original production remain in this new production but to their credit Williams and Street and UK Productions design team comprising Jon Harris, Jason Bishop and David Shields have pulled out all the stops to make this production look and feel fresh.
As Elle, Lucie Jones is incredible. Elle’s journey is an incredible one. It is a journey which starts on a whim but follows an arc of incredible self-realisation that you just can’t help but respect. It’s a fine balancing act but Jones manages to make the audience cheer this Elle. Incredible vocals and just a knockout. It may not look it but Elle is one of the greatest female musical theatre roles ever written. It’s right up there and requires a performance of substance and Lucie Jones delivers in abundance!
David Barrett’s Emmett is goofy, admirable, and sexy in equal part. Handling the humour, vocal and heart of this great character, it’s a great performance that is perfectly balance against the largese of Jones’ Elle.
Rita Simons perfectly challenges the heart, sincerity and guts of Paulette Bonafonte, the hairdresser with a heart and a hankering for an Irish gent! Like most of the characters in this musical, it would be easy to overdo this character and play it all for laughs, but there is real heart in this performance.
Bill Ward’s Callaghan is the snarky, misogynistic legal professor. Ward handles the role with ease (or so it seems), commanding and cantankerous, watching him is a joy.
No Legally Blonde is complete without the slimey machismo of Warner Huntington III and Liam Doyle does not disappoint. Urgh! You have to wonder just what the wonderful Laura Harrison’s Vivienne ever sees in him, whilst in contrast Ben Harlow’s UPS guy had this audience wanting their own special delivery.
James McCullagh’s show band is fabulous. It’s a big sound from a small number of musicians and perfectly serves the material.
This Legally Blonde is as perfect as I could have asked for. I saw audience members smiling and dancing their way out of the theatre – I was too! I’m looking forward to a return visit to this thoroughly enjoyable musical. Oh my God you guys – don’t delay, book your tickets!