Legally Blonde - Musical ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Tuesday, May 5, 2015 through till Saturday, May 9, 2015
Theatre Royal - Nottingham
Sheridan Halton | Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Legally Blonde the Musical is the kitsch little tale of sorority sweetheart Elle Woods, who embarks on a life-changing quest to win back her lost love by enrolling in Harvard Law School.
Along the way she learns more about herself than she dreamed possible and opens the eyes of those she meets, showing them that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
Even when that cover is very, VERY pink.
This musical, based upon Amanda Brown’s 2001 novel and Hollywood film, is fast paced, frenetic and most of all fun! It’s a show which, refreshingly, refuses to take itself too seriously and is littered with many self-effacing, tongue in cheek moments which make it particularly endearing. It is not, however, a show that can be embarked upon half-heartedly and presents some huge challenges for any amateur company to contend with. But happily, Carlton Operatic Society are more than up to the task proving themselves worthy of being one of the first amateur companies in the country to perform this musical. Not only that but they also do it with the style and confidence required to look thoroughly at home on the glorious stage of the Nottingham Theatre Royal. Rosie Wade leads the show with unwavering energy, confidence and charm showing a flair for comedy timing
Credit must go to Director Amanda Hall and Choreographer Rachael Rees who manoeuvre the cast beautifully on the stage to create an overall look that is lively and effervescent throughout without ever seeming chaotic. The show is well punctuated by the clear shifts in tempo and mood from bubbly ensemble numbers to more controlled stern numbers and then more reflective and tender moments before plunging right back into more downright infectious silliness. The pace of the show is hellishly rapid and it would be easy for a company to get carried away by the whole whirlwind of the score and lib that was written to challenge any professional company. However, this production team has done a masterful job of keeping everything firmly on the rails. Very impressive.
It was no lesser task to undertake such a challenging musical score and it has to be said that Musical Director Christopher Rees has done an equally impressive job guiding the company and orchestra through many complex harmonies and rhythms to be found in this endurance marathon of a show.
Mention must also go to some slick and unobtrusive stage management led by Jon Higton, indeed this is a very busy production for the crew of stagehands who help to keep the show flowing from scene to scene without pause or distraction.
There are some very strong individual performances in this show. None more so than Rosie Wade in her star turn as Elle. She leads the show with unwavering energy, confidence and charm showing a flair for comedy timing as well as the ability to hold the stage with real grace during some of the more introspective moments. Wade is very accomplished and much deserving of all the praise she will undoubtedly receive for this portrayal. She is well matched by Mark Coffey-Bainbridge who plays the Harvard teaching assistant Emmett Forest with the laid back ease required for this role, contrasting beautifully with Elle’s bubble-headed vivacity. The pair sing beautifully throughout and are a pleasure to watch on stage.
The character of Elle is well supported throughout the show by the trio of closest ‘Delta Nu’ Sorority girl-friends Serena, Margot and Pilar played excellently by Ella Greenwood, Andrea Chapman and Lucy Bailey respectively. Also giving a strong performance is Sarah Kelly as the initially snooty and superior Harvard student Vivienne Kensington who has snapped up the lost love that Elle came to Harvard to reclaim; Warner Huntingdon played by Rob Holsman. This is another good pairing demonstrating some very strong vocals and creating some toe-curlingly condescending set-pieces for our poor heroine Elle. Graham Ward gives a good performance as Professor Callahan, carrying off the cool, icy and controlled Harvard Professor with aplomb, particularly in his act 1 number ‘Blood in the Water’
Defying all bounds of human endurance in the opening to act 2, Jessica Royce is superb as Brooke Wyndham, an American exercise queen standing trial for murder. It takes a particularly sadistic type of writer to create a number in which a soloist and small ensemble perform the entire song skipping rope in time to a particularly rapid tempo. But Royce and her team of skippers carry this off amazingly well, belting out the song in fine voice without the slightest hint of fatigue. Seriously impressive!!
The musical also features a charming side-plot with Elle’s newfound beautician friend Paulette played by Helen Eadsforth who is seeking her own ‘Mr Right’ and finds him in the snug-shorted form of the UPS delivery man Kyle played by Tom Keeling. Each of these two, in their own way, provide some of the show’s genuine highlights. Helen is utterly engaging in her portrayal of Paulette, giving a terrific performance of the tricky number ‘Ireland’ in act 1 and providing some fine comedy acting throughout. The entire company of this production work their absolute socks off and never drop their energy or commitment for a momentIt is hard to believe that this is her first time in a leading role, the first of many I am sure. She is brilliantly matched by Tom who gets every last ounce out of the character of Kyle, a part with few lines but one hell of a walk! Never before have I seen a walk incite spontaneous applause from an audience.
Carlton Operatic Society are in the enviable position of being blessed with a wealth of talent on the stage. The entire company of this production work their absolute socks off and never drop their energy or commitment for a moment. It is a delight to see such a strong ensemble working together with such obvious and contagious enjoyment. Overall, this was a very impressive production in which the fun that the cast were having on stage was shared by the audience who were all sporting big broad grins having enjoyed a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
The show runs until Saturday May 9th and is certainly one not to be missed. If you don’t have tickets yet “Omigod you guys....what are you waiting for??”
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