Confession: I love musicals.
My normally fine-tuned antennae for excessive sequins, tackiness and over-the-top-ness is wound right down when there’s two hours of singing, high kicks and jazz hands on stage. Like amusements parks, musicals are almost guaranteed fun!
Legally Blonde the Musical is an adaptation of the fabulous feel-good flick made famous by Reese Witherspoon over 10 years ago. When it came out I didn’t think I’d like the film but my law school buddies dragged me along and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story of Elle Woods, cheery underdog and sweet as candy floss fish-out-of-water at Harvard Law School.
I was invited to see the musical and it has a very similar feeling to the film – there’s a lot of pink, a lot of cheesy girlishness and a lot of potential for things to fall on the too-silly-to-care side. But the production pulls it back from being vapid and silly to make Legally Blonde the Musical a very enjoyable, witty, laugh-out-loud show, with sight gags like the recurring UPS guy Kyle and a very non-PC number entitled Is He Gay, Or European?. It’s been nominated for eight Helpmann Awards, including Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor.
There are great performances from all the cast, including Lucy Durack as Elle Woods. She’s super-perky but not annoyingly so and you really want her to come out on top even though she’s a spoilt sorority beach chick from Malibu. David Harris plays the daggy but smart Emmett endearingly and their blossoming love affair is believable. Rob Mills as her ex-boyfriend Warner is a bit of a nothing character by comparison, though I overheard one grandma in the audience exclaim ‘He’s HOT!’ when he first appeared.
I actually thought the best performance came from supporting actress Helen Dallimore as Paulette, the hairdresser that Elle befriends – she displayed impressive singing, dancing and comedic timing. Oh – and there’s some super cute canines who come and go to ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience.
In addition, my favourite staging was some whiz-bang choreography at the beginning of the second act involving skipping ropes and some killer abs by Erika Heynatz playing fitness queen on trial Brooke Wyndham. No one tripped, the unison was perfect and everyone sang, danced and skipped without any sign of puffing. Amazing.
Of course the good guys win, the bad guys lose out and justice prevails. Everyone on stage looked like they were having a great time and their joy is infectious. You’ll leave the theatre smiling and laughing and days later I’m still humming ‘Omigod, you guys!’.
Legally Blonde the Musical is closing its Australian tour on 14 July so you only have 2 weeks to see it. All remaining tickets are now $69.90 – just click on the Ticketmaster link and enter the password: FAREWELL.