by guest critic Amy Toledano
The story of Elle Woods is one that many people are familiar with, and from the way the New Wimbledon Theatre was buzzing with excitement for it’s press night, it remains clear how many hold Legally Blonde close to their hearts. We have seen numerous productions of this show since it opened on Broadway in 2007, many of which have tried their best to be differentiate from the original. This version is no different.
Director Andrew Simeon and director/choreographer Anthony Williams make some interesting choices throughout the show that at times serve it well, surprising and exciting the audience with hilarious antidotes that work effortlessly. Some, sadly, do not quite work. The opening number, one of the most high energy moments of the show falls slightly flat as all the sorority girls ride around the stage on awkward static bikes.
Such a high energy show calls for an extremely talented cast, and all have fantastic vocals that did the show’s pop-centric score justice. But many lack the dancing chops to keep up with the ensemble, who often outshone the leads.
The two stand out performers are Laura Harrison who plays the “serious” antagonist of the piece, Vivienne Kensington, as well as Helen Petrovna as fitness guru Brooke Wyndam. Both actors provide the triple-threat energy and skill that make the show as enjoyable as it is. Petrovna’s incredible skipping rope choreography and Harrison’s high belt at the end of the number “Legally Blonde” blow the audience away.
Leading lady Lucie Jones has the voice to carry the big sing that Elle has throughout, and she does this really well, but she takes time to warm up to the energy of the role. She doesn’t really settle into it until the end of Act One, which can at times be a little distracting. The supporting roles are cast perfectly, but some strange direction occurs again, particularly with the number “Ireland”, which is very well known amongst hardcore fans. It is performed by Paulette (Rita Simons) completely statically, with the character stuck in a chair and not moving the entire time. Bill Ward as Professor Callahan is also a strange choice, as the actor shouts his way through the show without showing any depth of character choices.
Although the show has its hiccups, overall it is still a load of fun. With the huge production budget you can’t help but leave the theatre feeling great and covered in confetti.
Legally Blonde tours through 30 June.
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