Oh my goodness, did they hoot and did they holler at Legally Blonde which opened its shiny, bright doors at Leicester's Curve theatre last night? Nikolai Foster‘s breezy revival of the West End and Broadway smash hit, which announced Sheridan Smith as a major musical talent in the role of Elle Woods in 2010, prompted something of a party atmosphere in the final stages of this heartwarming, rather daft show.
It’s meant to be daft, I’m assured. As possibly one of the few people left in England yet to see the film on which it is based, let alone the musical itself, I feel safe in the knowledge that LB fans will accept me for who I am.
For everyone else who doesn't know it either, Legally Blonde follows Elle, a dizzy young woman who likes pink and likes shopping and is shell-shocked by her boyfriend’s decision to dump her, NOT marry her. So she does the obvious thing by also applying to Harvard Law School where he is bound so that she can show him how wrong he was. But OMG, it doesn’t work out that way because she stumbles into a murder case and meets another guy.
Playing Elle is Lucie Jones who, since getting to the final of The X Factor in 2009, has carved a good reputation in musical theatre, most notably in shows like We Will Rock You and Les Miserables. Comparisons may be unfair but are perhaps inevitable when only a relatively short time has passed since Smith played the role so well. Alas, Smith and Jones is a tough one to call. Jones may not be blessed with Smith’s natural comedic ability but she gets her laughs just fine and boy, can she sing. It’s a beautiful voice, impressing in equal measure in quieter, more controlled moments as well as when she hits the big notes.
The songs from Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin are good or decent throughout but for my money lack a stand-out tune.
Legally Blonde shows us we shouldn’t judge a (law) book by its cover and does so with some rather good jokes (both visually and in Heather Hach’s script), some nifty dance routines (Nick Winston) and some lovely supporting performances, most notably Jon Robyns as Harvard student rep Emmett Forrest.
Legally Blonde runs at the Curve, Leicester until 14 May 2016.