Music and Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin Book: Heather Hach
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval
On Tour till 6 October
Review: Alexander Ray, New Alexandra, Birmingham, 28 08 12
A gift box of many genuine delights.
One of the most noticeable things about LEGALLY BLONDE is how many young people there are in the audience – young people go to the theatre if there’s something they want to see! And it’s easy to understand the popularity of this work. It’s not just the feel-good factor, the witty music, lyrics, choreography, the escapism (though these are all important), it’s the hope tied up in the show’s message of empowerment, freedom and openness.
And it’s great to experience it – even when you’re not so young.
The story, on the surface, may seem silly, but that’s immaterial. This is the journey of Elle Woods, pretty and blonde who realises that life is about more than being pretty and blonde and who, not only has to fight with herself to build a new ‘me’ but also fight to be recognised as a new person (while still being beautiful and blonde.) The show’s creators have a knack of encapsulating big ideas into witty elements. Elle’s blondeness cleverly carries the feminist message, but so to, is the openness to sexuality encapsulated in lesbian character Enid (a delight in Gemma Baird’s performance) and in the deliciously politically-incorrect IS HE GAY OR IS HE EUROPEAN?
Fay Brookes is a fabulous lead as Elle Woods; looks and sounds the part. She is greatly ditzy as required but in her ditziest moments can inject sincerity – a quality which comes marvellously to the fore as she moves onwards on her journey. She is perfectly matched by Iwan Lewis as Emmett Forrest; Lewis balances character gaucheness and reserve with our need for him to charm us. Together Brookes and Lewis pull off the trick of making us care about their relationship.
The only way to engage with the great pleasures to be had in this show is to go and see it; which (see above) many young people have realised – good for them!
Fay Brookes: Elle Woods
Iwan Lewis: Emmett Forrest
AndyMace: Professor Callaghan
Jennifer Ellison: Paulette
Gareth Gates: Warner
Tracey Penn: Vivienne
Hannah Grover: Brooke Wyndham
Sinead Long: Serena
Sophie Issacs: Margot
Micha Richardson: Pilar
Antony Hewitt: Carolos
Lewis Griffiths: Chad / Dewy / Kyle
Katie Marie Hicks: Gabby / Stenographer
Zak Nemorin: Nicoks / Padamadan
Lori Barker: Judge / Sales Manager
Jon Reynolds: Kiki
Gemma Baird: Enid
Graham Lappin: Dad / Winthrope / RD
Mark Anderson: Aaron
Rhona McGregor: Saleswoman / Mum
Chris Milford: Pfortzeimer
Nia Jermin: Kate / Chutney
Andy Rees: Male Swing
Niamh Bracken: CeCe / DA
Michael Steedon: Lowell
Barnaby Thompson: Male Swing
Amy Ross: Female Swing
Hannah Wooley: Female Swing
Tara Young: Female Swing
Director and Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Original Broadway Scenic Design: David Rockwell
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller
Sound Design: Acme Sound Partners
Wig and Hair Design: Richard Mawbey
Assistant Wig Designer: Sue Pedersen