A review of Legally Blonde the Musical, Theatre Royal, March 13

Elle Woods (Faye Brooks) and cast.
Elle Woods (Faye Brooks) and cast.

IF YOUR daughter is obsessed with pink, sequins and glitter don’t fret.....she could still end up as a High Court judge. Elle Woods was pink personified but in the Theatre Royal, Brighton staging of Legally Blonde The Musical, Elle lands the big career (and the man.....this is fairyland after all.)

Transferring from the West End, Legally Blonde the Musical follows hard on the heels of the stupendous box office hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon as the ditzy blonde who proves you should never judge by appearances.

The theatre was packed to the gunwales with ‘girls’ (a loose term this as ages ranged from about seven to 97) and most of them knew all the words.

There were gales of laughter, whoops of joy and a standing ovation for the largely unknown, young and formidably talented cast who shared their delight with the audience rather than simply performing in front of them.

Production values were as high as ever (nothing less is expected from Brighton’s jewel-box of a theatre,) with lightning swift set changes, clear dialogue, blisteringly sexy costumes and an orchestra vamped up to deliver the high-octane score.

Albeit awash with tinsel and rhinestones, Legally Blonde has a steel core of a story deceptively encased in a rose feather boa. It tells women: “Look how you want but that big prize is there....providing you work for it.” In the programme intro, actress Miranda Hart says: “Legally Blonde does have a point beyond its camp wondrousness – to challenge the way people make assumptions about appearance.”

Los Angeles high school sorority sister Elle Woods (pitch-perfect Faye Brookes) is angry after being dumped by the fortune-hunting Warner Huntingdon the Third (Ray Quinn) so studies hard to follow him to Harvard Law School. After cranking her intellect into gear she is taken up as an intern by her high-flying professor (sensational Les Dennis with an unimpeachable WASP accent,) who makes a pass at her. Alone she probes a prosecution case which could send its victim to the electric chair – and for the outcome you will have to buy a ticket.

The dance routines are West Side Story standard - with more West Coast frippery than edgy West Side - and the dialogue is razor-sharp......as Elle seeks to prove a star witness’s gender favouritism is not as it appears, the jury sings: “Is he gay or is he European? They raise their boys differently there.” The audience loved it.

Elle’s pet dog has transmuted from a chihuahua (in the film) to an adorable miniature Jack Russell who should be in line for a dog Oscar and manicurist Paulette’s bulldog behaves far better than my own bloody-minded bull terrier who will only perform for biscuits.

There is so much in this musical to admire and I am running out of space, so I can only urge you to go and see it for yourselves. I can only leave you with the view of Churchill’s comment: “When they told me that by the year 2100 women would rule the world, my reply was ‘Still?’”

Winner of ‘Best Musical’ (Olivier Awards 2011) Legally Blonde plays until Saturday, March 24 with matinees on Thursday and Saturdays.

by Susan King