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Review: Legally Blonde - The Musical

Kevin Bourke feels as pink and fuzzy as candy floss at the Liverpool Empire

Written by . Published on July 14th 2011.


Review: Legally Blonde - The Musical

OMIGOD you guys! There now, I've fulfilled the apparent legal obligation to start every review of Legally Blonde - The Musical with Elle Woods' catchphrase. First heard, of course, in the hit film from 2001, starring Reese Witherspoon as the fashion-obsessed Californian who goes to Harvard law school to find true love and discover that what lawyers really, really want is to wear more pink in court, especially when they're defending accused murderers.

The film was ridiculous yet enjoyable, but this musical version knowingly cranks up the absurdity level to "11".

'You'll emerge from the theatre
glowing with goodwill towards
the world in general and quite
possibly grinning foolishly
at startled passers-by'

As an improbable result, it's even more enjoyable, almost irresistible in fact. Like the majority of modern musicals, most of the songs may be fairly shrill and unmemorable (which is possibly just as well - you probably don't want to find yourself singing aloud a chorus that poses the musical question "is he gay or European?") but I predict you'll still emerge from the theatre glowing with goodwill towards the world in general and quite possibly grinning foolishly at startled passers-by.

It all begins hereIt all begins hereThe Liverpool Empire is the first stop on a regional tour that's directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, who helmed both the Broadway and London hit productions. So this is already a slick, confident and fast-moving show that skilfully blends the talents of old hands at this game, like Dave Willetts, who's recently starred in both Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera, as the forboding Professor Callahan, with relative newcomers, such as Faye Brookes,  who gives an appropriately sunny and thoroughly winning performance as Elle.

For this leg of the tour, Liverpudlian Liz McLarnon, one third of Atomic Kitten, Britain's most successful girl group of the noughties, comes close to stealing the show as Paulette Buonufonte, Elle's beautician best pal.

But all of them have to contend with not one, but two dogs with starring roles. In truth, Pringle, Pepsi or Breezer, as Elle's precious chihuahua Bruiser, and Sharpy, as Paulette's dog Rufus, don't have much more to do than to not panic or piss on the stage (or their co-stars) but they certainly score the appropriate "aaaah" from the audience.

(Click here to add text)For those who have missed the movie franchise, by the way, the premise is simple enough. Popular student Elle Woods is rudely shaken out of her Californian cheerleader lifestyle of sun, shore, shopping and smiling by getting unexpectedly dumped by her beau Warner Huntington III (Neil Toon). In order for his own political ambitions to pan out, he tells her, he needs someone more "serious" on his arm than a fashion merchandising major. 

Not used to being rejected, Elle promptly resolves to up her grades and follow him to Harvard law school, complete with her little chihuahua, trunks of pink outfits and all. Although she is initially mocked by fellow students and professors alike, a ghostly "Greek Chorus" of her Californian sorority sisters, in a neat reversal of the usual cliches of campus uber-bitches, support and encourage her until she gets some new friends such as hard-working Emmett Forrest (Iwan Lewis) and heartworn Paulette, whose fatal weakness for Irishmen eventually pays off with one of the show's most purely joyous, and utterly silly, moments as all the cast suddenly turn into Riverdancers.

(Click here to add text)
With the nonsensical inevitability of any good fairytale, not only does Elle's essential decency eventually win over most of those around her, but her fashion expertise and newfound legal know-how improbably combine to help her to save an innocent female fitness guru from jail. Result! Cue yet more singing, dancing and cute dogs.

Kind-hearted, comical and camp as a row of pink tents, Legally Blonde - The Musical is right up there with Mamma Mia! and Hairspray - The Musical as the sort of feelgood hit that it's simply pointless to even try to resist. 

9/10

*Legally Blonde - The Musical continues at at the Liverpool Empire until July 16 and Manchester Opera House from October 18 -29.

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Peter Coyle

i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…

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Couldn't agree more. This is a super piece. Ken would be proud that not a penny of public money was…

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