Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Legally Blonde - The Palace Theatre, Manchester


OMG you guys, the totally pink-tastic Musical (inspired by the film of the same name) is in town for one week only.

Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, a pink-loving, fun-time having, spoilt rich kid from Malibu. Her hobbies include shopping, socialising and dressing in pink. No-one would ever have thought that underneath that stereotypical blonde bimbo exterior lay a deeply passionate and extremely intelligent young lady.

On receiving the news that her long-term boyfriend is splitting up with her because he needs to get serious about his life and career, as he has been offered a place at Harvard Law School, Elle decides that she will also apply and follow him there. No-one expects her to get in to Harvard, but she is nevertheless accepted and proves her worth and wins the highest accolade of becoming the valedictorian of her graduating year.

Of course, she wouldn't have got there without a little help and encouragement from Emmet Forrest, also a student at Harvard, but a couple of years senior. Of course, they fall in love and Warner, her original boyfriend gets a suitable come-uppance and finds himself work as a fashion model! (a lovely little role reversal!)

A live 7-piece band, directed by Andy Batty,supported this high energy and full-throttle production superbly. Whilst the direction and choreography by Anthony Williams was slick, creative and imaginative, I did feel a little let down by the choice of cast.

Despite all the principal roles putting in excellent and very relatable performances, I had great difficulty in believing their supposed on-stage ages. I am fully aware that there is a large difference between an actor's actual age and their playing age range, and maybe, had I been sitting further back, I wouldn't have picked up on this quite as much. However, when the pupils look older than the professors, and none- of those who should have looked early 20s actually did, this was a huge pity.

Bill Ward's interpretation of Professor Callahan had more in common with Billy Flynn; Liam Doyle's warner was somewhat mono-dimensional, and Elle Woods (Lucie Jones) was sporting a very visible and large tattoo on her right arm. (don't think that looked right - not in keeping with the era and the style). However, Rita Simons provided us with a superb comedy hairdresser with a heart, Paulette Bonafonte, David Barrett was a humble and secure Emmett Forrest, Laura Harrison. looking like she had walked straight out of the sitcom 'Suits', gave a stern interpretation to Vivienne Kensington, but the most pleasing role in the show for me was by far that of jailbird Brooke played by Helena Petrovna. Everything about this interpretation was spot-on and her singing control whilst skipping energetically was superb.

Of course the show has a couple of  'AH' factors too in the shape of dogs, Bruiser and Rufus. If you are a fan of pantomime-style sets, cheesy choruses, insubstantial storylines, but hugely feel-good, all-American honest as apple-pie entertainment; totally upbeat and fun, then this is most certainly the show for you!

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 26/6/18   

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