Legally Blonde The Musical

Legally Blonde The Musical
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Book by Heather Hach. Free Rain. Directed by Derek Walker. Produced by Anne Somes and Chris Neal. ANU Arts Centre, Acton, ACT. 4–27 July 2014

Ohmigod you guys! This is pink, fluffy, fabulous and with a heart bigger than Elle. There are sparkles, happiness, determination, bad hair days, fantastic shoes, and choreography that will make you wish you’d stayed in dance class a bit longer.

The first production ever of Legally Blonde in Canberra is a success. Mikayla Williams is fantastic as Elle, showing the emotional gradations that the character experiences during her personal journey.  Emmett is played by Dave Evans and Warner is played by Damon Grebert-Wade, both comfortable and confident in their respective roles. Jenna Roberts makes for a Paulette with heart and soul, and her rendition of “Ireland” is a show-stopper.

The set makes clever use of a small-ish stage, leaving plenty of room for the energetic and talented dancers (particularly noticeable in “Omigod You Guys”). The projection screen is well-used, and is integrated for the advertorial “Whipped Into Shape”, with a very fit Brooke (played by Madison Hegarty). Nicely done!

The orchestra has very experienced musicians in it and its crispness and attitude comes out, perfectly complementing the singers.  The music itself has some rather hard moments to sing, including finding the pitch, so all credit to the performers who obviously worked very hard to be note-perfect.

There were moments where several throat mics cut in and out which made some bits rather hard to follow, but that’s what happens with technology sometimes.

A review isn’t complete without mentioning the two doggy stars of the show, who elicited oohs and aahs as soon as they came on stage. Bruiser, played by Bella, and Rufus, played by Mosey, are simply perfect for their parts and have impeccable stage manners (apart from upstaging humans, which is only natural).

Rachel McGrath-Kerr

John P Harvey also saw Legally Blonde. He adds:

The story of the girl whose pursuit of her ex-boyfriend carries her into law school is little changed from its cinematic version — but adds the kick of live dancing and live singing and has that extra ambience that comes of designing and building a set unique to the production, in front of an enormous video screen.

The plot offers no real complexities; but the fun of the production lies in its lines and in the visual richness of continual dance without the least flagging in energy. The choreography, though mostly straightforward, kept the audience busy watching everything, and was very well-coordinated, as was the ensemble singing.

Costumes were all you’d hope for in a musical mixing hairdresser chic and law-school seriousness, from pink cheerleader outfits to professorial suits, and gave us the lowdown on that all-important attention-getting trick, the bend and snap.

Sound was, as it sometimes is in this theatre, a little harsh, but its volume was well-controlled.  The set was delightfully versatile.

The ensemble’s consistency in singing in tune was impressive in itself. This musical’s greatest difficulty is, strangely, its music.  The score was challenging to its singers, and the ability of almost all of the leads to hold their tunes speaks of much rehearsal. The almost manic pace maintained the fun.

John P. Harvey

Images: Mikayla Williams, as Elle, and (in handbag) Bella, as Bruiser; [L–R] Laura Dawson, Vanessa de Jager, and Tamina Koehne-Drube & Damon Grebert-Wade, as Warner; and Mikayla Williams, as Elle in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Photographer: Craig Burgess.

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