Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: Legally Blonde at the Leicester Curve

Legally Blonde 
Leicester Curve
Reviewed on Thursday 14th April 2016

It is a total joy to see Legally Blonde back in the UK with a major new production. Interestingly Nikolai Foster, artistic director of the Curve, has shaken things up and offers a fresh take on the show. Certain elements of this new vision work nicely, but sometimes it feels like things have just been changed for the sake of it.

Based on Amanda Brown's novel and the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde follows sorority girl Elle Woods as she does whatever it takes to get into Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend who dumped her in favour of a serious brunette.

Those seeing the show for the first time are in for a treat; Legally Blonde is a phenomenal show with a beautiful message and killer songs; if played well, the characters can build an unbreakable bond with the audience. Even those who have been dragged along will have the best time.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lucie Jones' performance as Elle Woods. Productions of Legally Blonde have been popping up left right and centre recently, but - before last night - I hadn't seen a strong Elle since the show closed in the West End. Jones' Elle is charming; rather than playing for cheap laughs she performs with heart and is a vocal dream, letting rip into the score. 

The performance of the night comes from Jon Robyns as Emmett who befriends Elle and guides her through Law School. Robyns portrays Emmett's transition effortlessly, his performance is endearingly kooky - he pitches the comedy perfectly whilst performing with sincerity. Robyns' rendition of 'Chip On My Shoulder' is one of the evening's highlights, his top notch vocals cannot be faulted.

Tupele Dorgu's larger than life Paulette is very funny, but I didn't care much for the character in this production. I thought Dorgu played the script for easy laughs and as a result her portrayal lacked heart. Natalie Hope makes a fierce Brooke whilst Danny Mac and Phoebe Street are well cast as Warner and Vivienne.

The ensemble work their socks off, popping up throughout in various roles. Darren Bennett shines, proving himself as an outstanding comedy actor. Francesca Hoffman, Cristina Hoey and Genesis Lynea are fantastic as Elle's three sorority friends; Hoey received some of the biggest laughs after delivering her one-liners hilariously.

I enjoyed some of the new arrangements of Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe's music; the first part of 'So Much Better' has been slowed down which suits Jones' voice beautifully. However, the Bollywood remix of the rap in 'What You Want' is very cringey. The choreography is often enjoyable, but more risks could be taken. The big numbers need more punch - I would love to see an exciting new take on the staging of the musical numbers. 

The material is so strong that I find it hard to imagine seeing a production of Legally Blonde that doesn't leave me grinning from ear to ear. It's certainly worth a trip to Leicester to see a big new production of the ultimate feel good show. Legally Blonde is back, and it's pinker than ever!

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Legally Blonde runs at Curve Leicester until 14th May 2016.
Please visit for information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Catherine Ashmore

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