Having originally seen Legally Blonde in New York we did not join in with the almost universal gushing over Sheridan Smith's West End version of Elle Woods. To my mind she brought too much knowing English irony to the part when what it really requires is full-on American optimism that anything is possble - even that an airhead Valley Girl can succeed at Harvard Law School. Bill Kenwright's touring show gives us much closer to the proper Broadway version, albeit with scaled down design values and Faye Brookes bubbles and shines as Elle, even if she does have a rather squeaky singing voice. There is genuine chemistry with Iwan Lewis who is excellent as Emmett and Matthew Kelly is a suitably sinister Professor Callahan. Some of the humour seems to have been lost, possibly due to the shortcomings of some of the cast but not helped by the usual awful acoustics at Southend's Cliffs Pavilion. Legally Blonde has less to say than it thinks it does, certainly less than Hairspray, but when it's performed with this much exuberance it's hugely entertaining and sometimes that's all that you want from musical theatre. - David Baxter
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