Legally Blonde The Musical
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed – 18th June 2018
“so delightfully implausible that we have total faith in its fanciful outcome”
One of the central messages of “Legally Blonde – the Musical” is not to judge a book by its cover, because appearances can be deceptive. On paper, this musical is ludicrously absurd. Yet the story of the fluffy, seemingly empty-headed Elle Woods who rises to courtroom stardom is so delightfully implausible that we have total faith in its fanciful outcome.
Elle, dumped by her boyfriend Warner Huntington, blags her way into Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back. She soon discovers, though, that her aptitude for the law can help others and she eventually defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial. Throughout the show, no one has faith in Elle, but she manages to surprise them when she defies expectations, while still remaining true to herself.
Based on the MGM movie starring Reese Witherspoon, the stage adaptation enjoyed Broadway success, followed by an Olivier award winning West End run. This current touring production is slightly scaled down but lacks none of the energy. Mercifully so, for it is that sheer energy that lifts you over the initial hurdles; so that once you get over the gratingly Disneyfied accents, the saccharine score and the sometimes-patronising delivery, you will have a ball.
Lucie Jones pours warmth into Elle Wood’s character that wins us over from the start, with a power and control to her voice that can switch, mid-flight, from soaring beauty to comedy with perfect timing. David Barrett’s raggedly winsome sidekick Emmett totally charms the audience so that you know that he will eventually win Elle’s heart. Helen Petrovna, as murder suspect Brooke Wyndham, stunningly opens the second act with some spectacular skipping routines, from where she, and the entire ensemble, lift the performance to another level.
Yet the show stealer is Rita Simons as Paulette, the spirited salon owner who takes Elle under her wing. Completely in her element she has a comfort on stage that belies her television background, matched by a fine grasp of comedy and, to top it all, a stirring and rich singing voice that is a revelation. Her professionalism allows her to let her hair down just enough to let us know she is having a great time, while her infectious, tongue-in-cheek charisma embodies the spirit of the show.
The tightness of Anthony Williams’ high energy staging and choreography whip away any scruples you might have about enjoying this show. Uplifting to the last, with a finale that will bring the lamest grouch to his feet: it’s like being on a date that starts off a bit annoyingly – but you know you’re going to end up falling in love.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography by Robert Workman
Legally Blonde The Musical
New Wimbledon Theatre until 23rd June then UK Tour continues to Palace Theatre Manchester