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Sheridan Smith the Next Broadway Diva? Even The Bleedin New York Times is loving London's Blonde!!!!

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Phantom of London
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Ben Brantley - New York Times

The program for the London production of “Legally Blonde,” the 2007 Broadway musical based on the 2001 film, has a glossary of Americanisms for those unversed in the languages of Malibu and Ivy League New England. But British audience members don’t really need to know what the LSATs or sorority houses are, any more than a child needs to understand the medieval Arabic origins of “Aladdin” to attend a Christmas pantomime.

The London “Legally Blonde” is just plain silly — even sillier than it was in New York. And that, oddly enough, is its strength. Led by the irresistibly likable Sheridan Smith, who has become a full-fledged West End star in the part, and directed by Jerry Mitchell (who created the Broadway version as well), this “Blonde” dares to be dumb, glossing over the half-baked satire of American archetypes and transforming the entire show into an extended music-hall fairy tale.

I presumed I’d never have the occasion – and certainly not the inclination – to see “Legally Blonde” again, after having reviewed it three years ago in New York, where it left me feeling my pores had been clogged with some sugar substitute. But friends here kept telling me I should check out the London incarnation, and I had enjoyed Ms. Smith in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” a few years ago. So there I was on Friday night, me and a lot of little girls in sparkly clothes.

Maybe it was from having spent much of the earlier part of the week watching American tragedies (“All My Sons,” “Beyond the Horizon”), but “Legally Blonde” tasted vaguely refreshing, like a swig of soda pop after a night of straight Scotch. Like the West End version of “Hairspray,” this singing story of a California girl who follows her boyfriend to Harvard Law School is less slick than its Broadway incarnation, but it also feels less synthetic.

By conventional standards, Ms. Smith would seem to be miscast as Elle Woods, a part created on screen by Reese Witherspoon and on Broadway by Laura Bell Bundy. She is not fashion-magazine skinny and airbrushed-pretty but slightly plump and impish. Her dancing is just passable. And her accent is still closer to that of the sweetheart of skid row she played in “Little Shop” than that of a Valley Girl fraternity sweetheart.

But she has fabulous comic timing and an air of sincerity that makes you care. You root for her in the way you might root for Lucille Ball or Mary Tyler Moore in a sitcom. And she seems to be having such a darn good time up there. Don’t ask me to defend “Legally Blonde” as a good musical. I wouldn’t even try. But Ms. Smith has a gift that can’t be learned: When she smiles, you smile. And that infectiousness can go a long way in keeping audiences contented in their seats.
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Mister Matt
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I'm thrilled to see Ben review Sheridan's wonderful performance. The praise is well-deserved.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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songanddanceman2
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This is why everyone should see this show before Sheridan leaves, shes amazing.
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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tenorboyo
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Was she really with James Corden???
Really???
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Janki
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I had my doubts about the casting of her when it was first announced, but thought "Hey, I'll give her a chance!" and Omigod You Guys, Sheridan WAS the show! She is utterly amazing. Like Ben Brantley said: You smile when she smiles! And you cannot help to love her! Such a great leading lady!
Now, just hoping she'll grace the West End as Bridget Jones, that would be fantastic Sheridan Smith the Next Broadway Diva? Even The Bleedin New York Times is loving London's Blonde!!!!
Popular...You're gonna be Popuular....;)
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MamasDoin'Fine
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She was with James Codren for some time just a few years back.
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alterego
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She must be very strong.
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tenorboyo
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ooops, did i mispell his name?
have i got the wrong person? the guy from Gavin and Stacey??? Who played the same character in Dr Who???
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MamasDoin'Fine
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No your on to the right guy, Tenor. I didnt check his name but knew who your on about.
Sheridan Smith the Next Broadway Diva? Even The Bleedin New York Times is l
James Corden and Sheridan Smith.

She's obviously moved on to better things!
Updated On: 7/28/10 at 09:19 AM
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Phantom of London
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"This is why everyone should see this show before Sheridan leaves, shes amazing."

100% agreed, a dead cert for The Olivier.
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Scripps2
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"100% agreed, a dead cert for The Olivier."

Until Emma arrives in Love Story.
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songanddanceman2
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Nope i think Sheridan will get it, her performance has been so praised all over the UK
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
Beergoggles
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I wouldn't agree she is 'plump' at all and think he's slightly in the wrong for that comment. Impish i'll agree with lol. I think she's fabulous and if she doesn't get the Olivier with these reviews then there's something seriously wrong.
Jesus Loves You... Everybody else thinks you're an idiot!
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Scripps2
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SADM2: are you betraying your, my and our Emma's West Yorkshire roots for Sheridan???

Soooo heartbroken to read this. Sheridan Smith the Next Broadway Diva? Even The Bleedin New York Times is l