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Legally Blonde (tour – Southend)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Freshly out of the West End, Legally Blonde is one of those musicals which began as a novel and progressed to being a film. It’s an engaging piece of froth, a rom com about a girl from Los Angeles who makes it into Harvard’s law school less from ambition than in pursuit of a boy (naturally, he’s the wrong one). You can’t call it tuneful, but it’s energetic, fast-moving and very easy on the eye.

There’s a large cast of young dancer-singers, a couple of scene-stealing older performers and a brace of dogs. English audiences being as they are, the humans have to work very hard to be as popular as the canines. Matthew Kelly as the professor with bite and Claire Sweeney as Paulette, the hairdresser with hang-ups, are most successful at this.

Faye Brookes is also very good as Elle, whose passion for things in all shades of pink and dizzy array of blonde locks undergoes such a metamorphosis. Her romantic interests are Neil Toon as Warner, whose ambition is to be “serious”, and – at the performance I saw – Michael Vinsen as Emmett, making the most of “Chip on my shoulder’.

All heroines in musicals have to have a darker mirror-image. Here it’s Vivienne (Charlotte Harwood), socially-assured and a better fit for Warner than Elle. Jerry Mitchell’s direction and choreography are both snappy and Richard Jaris’ adaptation of David Rockwell’s original designs keep the action moving while providing a good sense of time and place.


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