Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s 2007 musical adaption of the hit 2001 comedy film, starring Reese Witherspoon, is in Wimbledon for the week as part of its second UK tour since the West End production closed in 2012.
With a book by Heather Hach, Legally Blonde tells the story of heartbroken Elle Woods (Lucie Jones), who follows her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Liam Doyle), to Harvard Law School to prove there is more to her than just her looks. Her unique take on practising law takes everyone by surprise, including Elle herself.
The show opened with the enthusiastic musical number “Ohmigod You Guys”, which set a precedent for what was a high energy performance from start to finish.
Jones sparkles as Elle, showcasing her ability to sing sweetly, riff intricately and belt powerfully. Her mannerisms, from silly faces to high-pitched squeals, delight the audience as she portrays the determined law post-graduate. She gives a particularly poignant rendition of the title song when her character is at a cross roads. Having seen her in Rent recently it was great to see another side to this versatile actress.
Liam Doyle (Wicked) also shows off his comedy chops, particularly in “Serious”, as he tries to break up with Elle when she’s expecting a marriage proposal. Laura Harrison is suitably steely as Vivienne Kensington, Warner’s new “serious” girlfriend, but gets a chance to show off her belting skills later on in the show. David Barrett shows similar impressive vocal range as Emmet Forrest, Callahan’s teaching assistant.
Paulette, a hairdresser and Elle’s new confidante, is played by Rita Simons (Eastenders) her role had the entire audience laughing on more than one occasion. Her confident performance was exceptionally funny and she provided wonderful vocals, which together made her character incredibly lovable.
Bill Ward (Spamalot) portrays the notorious Professor Callahan with a menacing sleekness – as a highly successful lawyer should have. Strict and stern, his performance was enough to secure him both boos and cheers, truly embodying character you love to hate. Another highlight with the crowd are the two dogs, who ably carry out their parts in the show and add a high level of cuteness!
Anthony Williams’ exciting staging utilises every cast member and every square inch of the stage. The dance breaks are energetic and incorporate all manner of props, from pompoms to a particularly impressive skipping rope routine.
Jon Harris’s set design very much has a touring production in mind, with many portable cloth backdrops framing the various scenes. The changes wee frequent and slick and with clever staging gave the performance a busy and bustling feel, this fitted the performance perfectly.
Elizabeth Dennis’s costumes are bright and colourful, particularly Jones’s numerous pink outfits. Nev Milsom’s lighting incorporates plenty of pink and white light to maximise the colour of everything on stage.
Legally Blonde is a hilarious night out, both for those who know and love the film, and those who are new to the adventures of Elle Wood and the potential third film! Meanwhile, I’ll be bleaching my hair and purchasing an entirely pink wardrobe!
Tickets available via ATG Tickets. After New Wimbledon the show moves to Manchester for a week.