Legally Blonde at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

16-21 October 2017

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Reviewed by Zoey Caldwell

Having watched the movie Legally Blonde many years ago, I had a vague idea of the storyline. Looking through the programme pre-show I managed to recognise a couple of the cast members – well the ex-soap actors anyway. I honestly had no idea what I was about to see, I was dubious to be totally honest, dubious but open minded.

The opening song had me worried, was concerned that I would be able to stay for the foreseeable, “Oh, my God!” over and over again, “Oh, my God!” I get it, I do. American sororities, upbeat happy girls, just too much for me… others I am sure will love it. It commands the audience and is upbeat.

Moving on swiftly because everything went up from there. The story follows Elle Woods played by Lucie Jones, and her unrequited love for self-absorbed Warner Harrington. Warner has his whole life planned and sadly for Elle it does not include her blonde Marilyn self. He desires a Jackie.

Legally Blonde: Harvard Essay 1; Lucie Jones (Elle Woods) centre and company.
Photo Credit: Robert Workman

Party girl Elle must think quickly. She will do anything to win Warner back. Including getting herself into Harvard Law School! Despite every obstacle that is placed in front of her, despite all the odds she makes it. Harvard is introduced as a stiff upper lip establishment, the most prestigious law school – it is gate crashed quite heavily by Elle and her sorority girls in what must be the most interesting personal essay/ cheer squad ever to reach that goal.

A small group of elitist students become Elle’s classmates. Brunette Vivienne Kensington played by Laura Harrison is a top-notch bitch and she has her claws deeply dug into Warner. Elle has no place at Harvard as far as Vivienne is concerned and she spends her time, humiliating and trying to get Elle to leave.

Distraught at her classmates’ nastiness, Elle nearly makes a dramatic change… luckily for her Paulette Bonafonte, (Rita Simons) is there to talk some sense into her. Rita is tiny but she has a fine set of lungs on her. She belts out her solo song and holds the tune beautifully. Elle leaves unchanged but it is not the last we see of Paulette. Elle and her become good friends, an unlikely but lovable friendship.

Paulette is not Elle’s only friend, Emmett Forrest another underdog at Harvard sees what others can’t. He sees past the blonde hair and pink shoes. He can see her apparent beauty but far more importantly and critically for Elle, he sees potential. True honest potential. Emmett (David Barratt) born to a mother that introduces dead beat dad after dead beat dad, has a giant chip on his shoulder. He is going to make it big and despite his dubious upbringing, when he makes it he is going to buy his mother a house. Unlike Elle, Emmett has worked 2 jobs on top of Harvard and there is the chip!

Harvard Professor Callahan a blood thirsty lawyer, wants sharks. No softies need apply. He wants Sharks in the water. Callahan is ruthless and this is a role that should come easily to Bill Ward, his previous soap experience (Coronation Streets, Charlie Stubbs). Charlie is fantastic as the slippery, untrustworthy Professor, who knew he could sing too! Bang on fantastic

When a massive murder case is given to Callahan’s’ law practice. Only the cream of the crop of his Harvard students are enlisted. Nobody, including Elle expect her to be part of that team but the underdogs have made it.

A shopping spree with Emmett has a pretty woman vibe. Elle replaces the ill-fitting brown corduroy suit with a sharp shark, blood in the water lawyer one.  Is there something between them?

Cut to Brooke Wyndham a keep fit Goddess, locked up for the brutal murder of her sugar daddy husband. I have very little words at just how FABULOUS Helen Petrovna’s skipping routine is. I was flabbergasted. To skip the complicated choreography takes amazing skills and fitness and yet not only does Helen skip, she is singing too! Faultless singing. What would have most of us in a heap on the floor was effortless. One of my favourite scenes!

Legally Blonde: BEND & SNAP; Lucie Jones & Rita Simons plus company.
Photo Credit: Robert Workman

I say one of because there are a few. I am not going to elaborate too much but watch out for Bend and Snap and Gay or European… the latter was by far my favourite. It is a laugh out loud routine and the cast look as if they are enjoying it as much as us.

How and whether the case is won I won’t divulge? Who has the most dramatic turnaround? Does Elle win Warner back? Does Callahan prove to be not quite the upstanding Professor he is esteemed to be? Does love prevail?

What I will say in closing is that, Legally Blonde the Musical is bonkers. Where would you expect to see 2 roller skating cupids, ballet dancing Europeans, Irish dancing and 2 of the cutest dogs out there? Watch out for all future parcels delivered by UPS! Your life may never ever be the same – ask Paulette!

Be prepared to be totally entertained by an enormously talented cast. That are able to do what they do so well with thanks to all the backstage crew too. The set is top notch. Fantastic quality and seamlessly changed. What I would say is that my friend and I couldn’t always understand all the lyrics – this may be a sound issue rather than the actors.

There is no one star of the show, it is a true all cast extravaganza. If you arrive in a mood, you’ll leave with a smile. It is well worth a visit to the theatre!

The Royal & Derngate continued to be a fantastic venue. There are several bars throughout the theatre. The staff are always friendly and despite it being busy they are happy and polite. The theatre is central to Northampton town and there are car parks within walking distance. It is clean and well maintained. I love my visits here, not a bad word to say about it!

Rating: 4.5/5

Tickets cost from £19 to £42.50 (booking fees may apply).

Legally Blonde is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 16-21 October 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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