The story of a sorority girl, with straight As in being fashionable and all things pink, made for a fairly amusing movie in 2001 starring Reese Witherspoon. The tale follows blonde Elle Woods as she follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School to prove to him that she is worthy and serious.
This reviewer was somewhat amazed when it spawned a sequel, much less a Broadway musical version.
Let me admit straight away that I find Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s songs for Legally Blonde: The Musical highly unmemorable and somewhat derivative. For me, this did not help the production which, while lively and well performed by the cast, seemed to be missing something indefinable. Perhaps, if the saying “Blondes have more fun” is true, then this version needs to be ‘blonder’.
Director David Sinclair keeps the show fairly well paced, especially with the aid of Matthew Berry and Paulo Nacianceno’s great video graphics. Linda Williams’ choreography is stunning in the more physical numbers, but a little bland at other times; whilst Mark DeLaine’s orchestra are good when they are not too soft or too loud, which seems to be most of the time. Mark Oakley’s lighting design is disappointing, coming across as somewhat pedestrian when so much more could be done to make it spectacular and interesting.
Other disappointments on the night reviewed, mid-season, were cast being seen in silhouette behind the LED screens, late cuing on many of the spotlights, and a crew member removing furniture from the stage during a very poignant moment between the two leading performers. When a show has a few performances under its belt, one should not be seeing things such as these.
Now for the positives – there are many great performances in this production. Buddy Dawson steals Act One with his screamingly funny portrayal of redneck trailer trash, Dewey (just don’t eat any cake that he has handled); whilst it is Lindsay Prodea with his “package”, and Mark Stefonoff as the gayest European ever who are the thieves in Act Two. Shelley Crooks also impresses with her four hundred odd (or so it seems) characters – each with a different wig.
As the Bronx/Irish/Italian hairdresser, Paulette, Fiona DeLaine gives a stellar performance, being strong in voice with marvellous comic timing. Matt Prime is suitably stiff and snobbish as Elle’s ex, Warner Huntington III; with Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti displaying her dance expertise and good acting ability as exercise queen, Brooke Wyndham, accused of killing her husband.
The always fantastic Brady Lloyd does not disappoint as the male lead, Emmett, showing us a quieter, more introverted slant to his acting skills. As the lady in pink, Elle, Tegan Gully does well and channels Witherspoon nicely, but she does speed her dialogue somewhat and unfortunately sound and balance issues make not only Gully, but many of the cast and their lyrics unintelligible. This does not deter her from showing off her marvellously strong singing voice however.
This version of Legally Blonde does entertain to a fair degree, but the usually magical team of Sinclair, DeLaine and Williams have done better.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre Avenues Road, Stirling
Season: 7 – 22 November 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins including interval
Tickets: $25.00 – $32.00
Bookings: Season is sold out. Contact 0466 118 153 in case of booking cancellations