BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE, Theatre Royal Brighton

BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE, Theatre Royal Brighton

BWW Review: LEGALLY BLONDE, Theatre Royal Brighton"Omigod You Guys!", Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin's 2007 musical adaption of the hit 2001 comedy film, starring Reese Witherspoon, is in Brighton as part of its second UK tour since the West End production closed in 2012.

With a book by Heather Hach, Legally Blonde tells the story of heartbroken Elle Woods (Lucie Jones), who follows her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Liam Doyle), to Harvard Law School to prove there is more to her than just her looks. Her unique take on practising law takes everyone by surprise, including Elle herself.

The plot is augmented compared to the film, and while a very fun story, the stereotypes played up in some of the numbers feel a little dated and unhelpful - like Elle's ability to attract any straight guy's attention by bending over.

Jones sparkles as Elle, showcasing her ability to sing sweetly, riff intricately and belt powerfully. Her mannerisms, from silly faces to high-pitched squeals, delight the audience as she portrays the determined law post-graduate. She gives a particularly poignant rendition of the title song when her character is at a cross roads.

Doyle also shows off his comedy chops, particularly in "Serious", as he tries to break up with Elle when she's expecting a marriage proposal.

Laura Harrison is suitably steely as Vivienne Kensington, Warner's new "serious" girlfriend, but gets a chance to show off her belting skills later on in the show. David Barrett shows similar impressive vocal range as Emmet Forrest, Callahan's teaching assistant.

Paulette, a hairdresser and Elle's new confidante, is played by Rita Simons in a suitably mad and thick-accented manner. Ben Harlow is a hoot as Kyle the UPS delivery guy. Another highlight with the crowd are the two dogs, who ably carry out their parts in the show.

Bill Ward portrays the notorious Professor Callahan with a menacing sleekness - as a highly successful lawyer should have - and Nancy Hill is suitably feisty as activist-cum-law student Enid.

Anthony Williams' exciting staging utilises every cast member and every square inch of the stage. The dance breaks are energetic and incorporate all manner of props, from pompoms to a particularly impressive skipping rope routine.

Jon Harris's set design very much has a touring production in mind, with many portable cloth backdrops framing the various scenes. Unfortunately, a number of scene changes were poorly executed during this particular performance, detracting from the action on stage. The simple single-level set is a shadow of the previous Broadway and West End productions' award-nominated designs.

Elizabeth Dennis's costumes are bright and colourful, particularly Jones's numerous pink outfits. Barrett is suitably drowning in corduroy in his pre-makeover scenes, and the sorority girls and different tribes of students are identifiable instantly from what they're wearing. Nev Milsom's lighting incorporates plenty of pink and white light to maximise the colour of everything on stage.

A noticeable difference from the existing cast recordings is that the pit orchestra has been almost halved to seven musicians from the original scoring. This downsizing is particularly obvious during Paulette's (rather odd but certainly entertaining) Irish storyline, which features traditional jig underscoring - normally played by violin, which is sadly absent in this production.

Additionally, the mega-mix at the curtain call feels a tad unnecessary and overindulgent. The audience remaining in their seats is indicative of this.

While not perfectly executed, Legally Blonde is a hilarious night out, both for those who know and love the film, and those who are new to the adventures of Elle Woods.

Legally Blonde at Theatre Royal Brighton until 16 June, then continues on tour

Photo credit: Theatre Royal Brighton

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From This Author Fiona Scott

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