BWW Reviews: LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, New Wimbledon Theatre, September 25 2012
It's only ten years or so since Amanda Brown (what a name!) self-published the novel Legally Blonde. Such is the story's power to inspire, to charm and, let's not forget, to entertain, that it has been adapted into a successful film and a wildly popular musical, now on the road having filled houses and won awards in The West End.
The tale - as you would expect - is pure schmaltz. Elle, a Californian Girl, chases her pretentious, ambitious boyfriend Warner to Harvard Law School, because, despite what The Beach Boys sang, Warner wishes his girl to be a WASP - all the more suited to furthering his own legal and political ambitions. Elle crams for exams, charms the admissions tutor, learns plenty about law and life and winds up dumping waste of space Warner and getting the guy she really needs. She would, wouldn't she?
But that's akin to describing The Sound of Music as a nun's story set against a bit of a dust-up in Austria. Legally Blonde bubbles with invention and wit - Elle Woods is a warm and lovable central character, who is never less than fully believable throughout her unsentimental education. Faye Brookes is all bright-eyed energy in the role, singing beautifully and bouncing off the other actors, sprinkling stardust wherever she goes. Big names Gareth Gates and Jennifer Ellison aren't required to act much, but what they do, they do well, with Ms Ellison a surprisingly powerful presence on stage. Iwan Lewis, as Elle's earnest mentor Emmett, gradually moves into the limelight and finds that it suits him - in every sense.
For all the star quality on stage (and there's plenty), the biggest laughs of the evening are reserved for an Elvis-a-like UPS delivery guy (Lewis Griffiths) and the splendid speculation about Carlos (Antony Hewitt) the Pool Guy - "Gay or European"?
Legally Blonde is probably a classic already - and you can find out exactly why at New Wimbledon Theatre (until 6 October).