A deliciously sweet piece of bubblegum pop which explodes with colour and comedy, Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s musical adaptation of Legally Blonde has a sass and a spirit which would leave most modern musicals quaking in their Ugg boots.
Elle Woods, a preposterously pink Malibu sorority girl, pursues her preppy high school sweetheart to Harvard Law School, determined to win back his heart and prove herself as “less of a Marilyn, more of a Jackie”. Heather Hach’s sharp and pleasantly cartoonish book soon develops into a story of self-belief and self-improvement, bolstered by a catchy, funny and punchy pop score.
Faye Brooks is a wonderful Elle. Breezing across the stage with the radiance and warmth of a Californian tanning session, Brooks is charismatic and witty in her delivery. Her phrasing is perfect, her vigour infectious and her stage presence entrancing.
Former Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon worthily earns her place in musical comedy theatre as Paulette the hairdresser. Knock-kneed, slouch-backed and zanily dressed, her excellent performance is at once vulnerable and assured, gazing misty-eyed at the missed opportunities of her life and strutting confidently in frilled purple heels.
Snaps, too, for Dave Willets’s exceptional performance as Professor Callahan. His villainy is smooth and intuitive, genuinely frightening in its authoritarian stance and imposingly holding his own in a grey suit amidst a stage full of bare chests and cheerleader choreography.
And yet, even the brightest Hollywood smiles need to be cleaned. This touring production further shrinks back the already scaled down West End effort, levelling the immense Delta Nu sorority house to a couple of uninspiring pillars and undermining the impact of certain scenes with all too easy staging decisions. Technically, too, the production could be sharper and on a few occasions left Kenneth Posner’s lighting design fumbling in the dark.
Mad props to the Ambassador Theatre Group and Howard Panter for touring this Olivier Award winning show whilst it is still playing to packed houses in London. Legally Blonde brings the West End to the West of Scotland and a packs an ensemble worthy of the Great White Way.