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Legally Blonde (Bristol)

By • Southwest
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Ohmigod you guys, brace your eardrums – someone’s getting engaged. Cue the squad of Malibu sorority sisters who leap into cheerleading routines, fantasise over the cut of the ring (princess, surely?) and seem to compete for who can squeal at the highest possible pitch.

In fact, ditzy Elle’s boyfriend breaks up with her rather than proposing, saying she’s not ‘serious’ enough for his future as a Harvard Law School student and senator. Devastated, she determines to join him at Harvard and win back his affections by proving that she’s a Jackie, not a Marilyn. She swaps her skills in fashion merchandising for a career as a winning lawyer, flabbergasting the ex-boyfriend and, of course, realising she’s much too good for him in the process.

As long as you have enough stamina to make it through the gleefully girly opening, you’re hooked. The songs are big and sassy with plenty of wit – Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe’s lyrics keep tongue firmly in cheek, building our affection for the characters while gently mocking them throughout the show. The title tune ‘Legally Blonde’ is a beautiful moment of wistful reflection for Elle as she feels all her efforts have been in vain.

As Elle, relative newcomer Faye Brookes shows great range, flashing an inane grin in Elle’s unfailingly positive moments and bringing heart and vulnerability to her softer ones. Former Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon is a lovable Paulette Buonofonté, Elle’s lovelorn hairdresser who has a weakness for Irish men and a bulldog called Rufus.

With lashings of glitter and a set that transports us effortlessly between courtroom and salon, the show is visually spectacular. The dancing deserves a particular mention – Jerry Mitchell’s high-energy choreography captures the infectious excitement and is performed to perfection, including brilliant full-cast routines like a flag-waving display that gets Elle into Harvard and a skipping workout in a prison.

Lyrics like “You saw beyond all the blonde, to my mind” rhyme well but have a robust, if simple message. Like Elle herself, behind the frivolity is a story of a woman finding her own way and learning that she doesn’t need to follow a man to find it.

There are plenty of easy crowd-pleasers – two adorable dogs (one spends considerable time in a handbag) and Kyle the shapely UPS man who has a ‘package’ to deliver and his own theme music. Yet it never seems flippant - the show is ridiculous but unashamedly so, and overpowers you with its spirit. The importance of not judging a girl by her signature colour applies to the whole experience of Legally Blonde – you’ve just got to look a little deeper.


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