A personal review of the hit West End show Legally Blonde The Musical at the Savoy Theatre
Oh-my-god you guys, it’s like totally here! Legally Blonde: The Musical has finally arrived in London at The Savoy Theatre. After much anticipation, Broadway’s answer to Barbie with a brain is here and I can quite honestly say that I enjoyed (nearly) every single pink second of it.
The history and plot of Legally Blonde: The Musical
After its Broadway opening in 2007, the hit musical – based on the film of the same name – played to full houses for nearly a year and a half at the Palace Theatre. The story centres around airhead blonde and popular socialite Elle Woods. She is happily in love with her arrogant and egotistical ‘hottie’ boyfriend Warner Huntington III.
However, he ditches her and instead travels to Harvard Law School hoping to win a senate seat by age thirty. So in true romantic comedy style, Elle follows him to Harvard and tries to win him back – meeting a much more suitable gentleman in the process. Elle manages to win people over at Harvard whilst somehow becoming top of the class. Though quite how is never really explained.
The Cast of Legally Blonde: The Musical
Sheridan Smith takes the title role of Elle Woods, and, despite some weak vocals, her West End debut is a fine one, for what she lacks in vocal talent she makes up for in acting and comedic timing. Smith is certainly making her name as one of the nation’s top comedic actresses after successful stints in Gavin and Stacey, a starring role in 2 Pints Of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, as well as a successful run on stage in a Little Shop of Horrors. In contrast to Laura Bell Bundy on Broadway, Smith plays the role with more of a ‘girl next door’ charm and warmth; winning the audience over within the first musical number.
Canadian Alex Gaumond steals the shows as Emmet; a Harvard Law school graduate that befriends Elle, takes her under his wing and helps her to meet her full potential. Peter Davison, Denise Van Outen and Aoife Mulholland – who not long ago wanted to be Maria on BBC1 – make up the rest of the ‘I’ve seen you before on the tv’ cast. A special mention must go to Wicked alumna Caroline Keiff, playing Warner’s new snooty girlfriend Vivienne. Her amazing vocal abilities would have been much more appreciated if she was not drowned out by the overpowering orchestra. I hope the sound mixer sorts this issue out sooner rather than later.
Songs included in the show
Even though I was not humming along to any particular tune when leaving the theatre, a fact not helped but the last song of the show being the weakest, I do remember laughing out loud at some of the sharp and witty lines and lyrics. The best song by far is ‘There! Right There!’, which occurs late in the second act as Elle and the rest of the legal counsel argue over whether a witness is gay or straight (there is a legitimate reason for this, albeit a flimsy one) . Court Rooms are not usually the place where comedy gold takes place, but Legally Blonde makes an exception. I guarantee that this is the song people will be talking about after seeing the show.
The writer and director of Legally Blonde: The Musical
However, thanks to Freaky Friday screenwriter Heather Hach, both the plot and script are incredibly weak in places and often left me feeling embarrassed for the cast. Thankfully for the show, it is the incredibly enthusiastic and vibrant ensemble whose energy and performance levels are captivating. They execute choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell’s dance routines with skill and focus. Yet, I still think his Beyonce-esqe choreography is better suited to a music video than musical theatre.
From Broadway to the West End
There was some speculation over whether the show would translate well in London because as much as I hate to say it; the story is very American in terms of setting, cultural references and the language used. However, the production team must have had their doubts too. Inside my reasonably priced program, I found a glossary of American words used throughout show with a very British definition written next to them. These definitions certainly help those in the audience who are not familiar with MTV, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. However, those people made up about 45% of the audience.
Legally Blonde certainly knows its target demographic and plays to them so fittingly that they will come back for more. When I say ‘they’ I mean hordes of teenage girls who thrive off Legally Blonde as though it were a drug. And from their screaming, whooping and energetic clapping – I could tell they were having a great time. Therefore, I do not recommend this show to theatregoers wanting a calm and quiet night out. The show probably wouldn’t appeal to anyone over the age of forty, and may not entertain the male members of the audience as much as the female patrons.
Other important information regarding the show
The show is predictably fun and entertaining, but occasionally feeble in places. If you are able to ignore this then I highly suggest seeing Legally Blonde. If you prefer Les Miz or Phantom of the Opera then perhaps give this a miss or have a couple of glasses of wine before entering the theatre. Nevertheless, give the show a chance before you completely write it off as you may be pleasantly surprised by the performances and the show itself.
Along with the likes of other American imports such as Hairspray, Avenue Q, and Wicked; Legally Blonde: The Musical is aimed at the younger generation. And if shows like these continue to bring in a younger audience by welcoming them to musical theatre – then what is the issue? Unlike Oliver and The Sound of Music, it did not need to force itself upon a television audience to gain publicity; Andrew Lloyd Webber please take note. With over two million pounds already spent on advance ticket sales, I can see Legally Blonde: The Musical being around for a while yet.
When and where to see Legally Blonde: The Musical
Legally Blonde is on at The Savoy Theatre and plays Monday to Saturday evenings, with matinees on a Thursday and Saturday.