I was majorly looking forward to seeing ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’, and it was anticipation well-rewarded: it was a musical full of fun, laughter and absolute outrageousness, all bundled together in a fabulous pink coating.
The music was absolutely spot-on: it was light, frothy and didn’t take itself too seriously, as evidenced by the epic repetition of “oh my gaaawd!”. However, while it didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t, the talent of the cast was still abundantly clear, and none more so than Carley Stenson, the leading lady herself. Ex-Hollyoaks actress Stenson made a ten-year career out of pretending to be the majorly untalented Stephanie de la Dean in the ‘Oaks, and yet nothing could have been farther from the truth. She has a spectacular voice, and was able to sing whilst keeping her American accent, a talent not easily achieved by others. Stenson was also able to easily switch between the bubbly blonde and underestimated and prejudged intern with little effort. In short, this was a role she was probably born to play, so while I will always regret not having seen Sheridan Smith in the role, I will always vouch for the immense talents of Carley Stenson, who was able to make the role both breezy and wonderfully full of depth.
Whilst on the topic of Sheridan Smith, her former ‘Two Pints’ co-star Natalie Casey was unexpectedly brilliant. I had no idea she was such a brilliant singer, and her comedy performance as beautician Paulette was perfect. I wanted to cry when she was finally reunited with her dog, and on the other end of the scale her performance during ‘Bend and Snap’ was utterly hilarious. Casey’s accent was a bit dodgy in places, but then I think hers was the hardest to maintain, and once she hit her stride it wasn’t an issue.
The only real disappointment was that Lee Mead was on holiday in the week we saw it, but then Robbie Towns was a brilliant Emmett, who definitely had that geek chic charisma that made both Elle and the audience fall in love with him. He was the perfect unlikely hero, so it was only a disappointment in that at some point, I’d love to see Lee Mead perform on stage, as the show certainly didn’t suffer in his absence. Equally, Simon Thomas’ Warner was well-played: the right amount of sleazy to pathetic to make you feel a tinge of sadness in his desperate ambitions that fall flat.
However, this was definitely a show that was all about the girls, and they were able to mix sassy and smart to show that we really can have it all. It’s always a bit of a risk adding music to a well-known and well-loved film, but this was a gamble that has definitely paid off. ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ doesn’t use music for the sake of it, but to punctuate how Elle’s flippant lifestyle did not have to pigeon-hole her into the blonde stereotype, as we moved from a cheerleading campaign in lieu of an entrance essay to Harvard, to the department store trip with Emmett moving from loungewear to love without sounding contrived.
Maybe it’s true: maybe blondes really do have more fun. But Elle shows us that with a little bend and snap in all of our lives, we can all go a long way to finding happiness, and it all starts with a blonde, her dog, and some killer songs.