In this big, in-your-face, feel good show, The Arcadians give a pacey, energetic performance which fizzes from start to finish.
The relentless momentum is aided by a slick, stripped-down production. This gives the large cast a lot of room for manoeuvre, with the option for more intimate spaces to be created at the drop of a hat in the use of inventive lighting. Given that colour plays such an important role in articulating the central character’s journey, the show’s colour palette could perhaps be a bit more bold.
The choreography is cleverly tailored to match the strengths of the dancers, and this means that some of the big production numbers pack a real punch: ‘Bend and Snap’ is particularly slick and enjoyable, as is ‘Gay or European’.
Bethany Neame as Elle provides a strong, likeable presence at the heart of the show. Charismatic and believable, she rejects the cartoonish elements of the character to deliver something engaging and relatable. Jacob Standbridge is delightfully nerdish as the slow-burning love interest, Emmett. The couple have great chemistry with well-produced voices blending beautifully in their big duet.
In supporting roles, Rebecca Eastwood is a force of nature as Elle’s nail stylist and confidant, Rebecca. Adaeze Olugbemi sings up a storm as the accused murderer, Brooke Wyndham. Eleanor Hewer convincingly traces the journey of Elle’s love rival, Vivienne from nemesis to soul-sister. This is very much a women’s show, and, overall, the women – who have more to get their teeth into – give more grounded performances.
There’s lots to enjoy here; laughs come thick and fast and land well thanks to tight timing. And, of course, there are two live dogs on the stage to go gooey over! What’s not to love?
Elle Woods – Bethany Neame
Emmett Forrest – Jacob Standbridge
Paulette – Rebecca Eastwood
Warner Huntingdon III – Cieran Nixon
Professor Callahan – Rob Pushkin
Vivienne Kensington – Eleanor Hewer
Brooke Wyndham – Adaeze Olugbemi
Margot – Robyn MacPhearson
Serena – Ella Sander
Pilar – Laura Peters
Kyle B. O’Boyle – Tom Cullen
Enid – Helen Rourke
Kate – Katy Orr
Leilani – Isabelle Pollock
Bruiser Woods – Willow
Rufus – Archie
Dancers – Adaeze Olugbemi, Ella Sander, Emily Murtough, Isabelle Pollock, Lauren Philips, Lily Fox, Rae Heathcote, Robyn MacPhearson, Sophia Robertshaw
Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach