Sunday, 12 May 2013

Legally Blonde, Melbourne, May 11, 2013 ****1/2

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach
Produced by Gordon Frost Organisation & ATG Ambassador Theatre Group
Princess Theatre, Melbourne, until Sept 29, 2013 (or later)
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 11
Stars: ****1/2 
This review was also published in Herald Sun NEWS on line on the night of Sat, May 11 at 10.20pm, and on line in ARTS page on Mon, May 13. KH

On a scale of 1 to 10 for perkiness, Legally Blonde is an 11 on the perk-o-meter, and Lucy Durack as Elle Woods, the relentlessly upbeat, candyfloss pink, California gal, hits a 12.

Durack is perfectly cast as the ditzy, vivacious, seemingly brainless blonde, who emerges as a clever, capable young law graduate and amounts to more than her platinum curls, cheerleading smile and gaudy dress sense.

There’s plenty of high voltage song and dance numbers so, if you thought Glee was chirpy and saccharine, wait until you see this show!

The effervescent Australian production bounced into Melbourne with a glitzy opening night attended by musical theatre and media celebrities including: Lisa McCune, Eddie Perfect, Anne Wood, Teddy Tahu-Rhodes, Tony Bartuccio, Caroline Gillmer, Patti Newton, Brian Mannix and Colette Mann.

For those unfamiliar with the plot of the movie on which this musical is based, Elle chases her self-absorbed, UCLA college boyfriend, Warner (Rob Mills), to Harvard Law School to win him back after he dumps her to find a smarter gal.

In Durack and Mill’s early duet, (Time to Get) Serious, the dislikeable cad, Warner, played with smug, swaggering arrogance by Mills, deflates Elle’s buoyant nature when he unceremoniously and unexpectedly drops her.

Durack’s vibrant vocal tone with its bright, musical theatre twang, lends energy and poignancy to songs by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and the title tune is eminently singable.

Elle’s spirited opening chorus of Omigod You Guys– with her cheerleading gang of UCLA, Delta Nu, sorority sisters (Ashlea Pyke, Chloe Zuel, Shaye Hopkins) in their mini-skirts and even mini-er shorts ­– is a lesson in colour and vitality.

In another bonanza of sassy chorus and choreography, What You Want, Elle presents the stuffy Harvard entrance committee with her three-dimensional, all-singing, all-dancing “personal essay”.

O’Keefe and Benjamin’s song list includes chirpy, funky choruses and smooth ballads with clever, satirical lyrics that illuminate the story and cunningly expand the characters’ intentions and feelings.

Heather Hach’s book makes Legally Blonde a morality tale for teenage girls that will also appeal to families, and it is riddled with cheerfully silly dialogue and acerbic humour about college kids and their idiotic obsessions.

Elle learns that she can be accepted for her own style, that her street smarts and fashion tips can be applied to the law, and that she is more than a lolly-pink heroine.

David Harris is warm and charming as Emmett, the scruffy law graduate (and the thinking woman’s hottie) who overcame adversity, loves Elle and helps her fulfil her capacity as a lawyer and be true to her self.

Helen Dallimore is deliciously cheap and brassy as Paulette, Elle’s hairdresser/confidante and Ali Calder is suitably cool as Elle’s nemesis, Vivienne, the social-climbing, evil, preppy Law student.

Erika Heynatz is a delightful revelation as Elle’s client, Brooke Wyndham, Cameron Daddo makes a boo-able villain as the unscrupulous legal shark, Professor Callahan, singing the chilling song, Blood In The Water.

Zoe Jarrett as Enid the lesbian-feminist lawyer is a hoot, and Mike Snell received clamorous applause for his cameo as Kyle, the sexy postie.

Jerry Mitchell’s direction is slick and swift-paced, his choreography athletic, feisty and energetic, and the costumes (Gregg Barnes) and set design (David Rockwell) feature vivid, high-gelato colours.

If sweet, shiny, girly-pink things and cute puppies make your teeth ache, then this show may not be your kind of cupcake, but it is a fairy-floss of flamboyant fun.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment