Photos – Jeff Busby
The bright and sparkly musical Legally Blonde has arrived just in time to take the bite out of the Melbourne chill. If you have seen the movie, you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t, think American collegiate culture – giddy sorority girls, preppy law school kids, petty rivalries, accented with diamantes and lots of “like totally”s.
Lovable, Malibu blonde Elle Woods (Lucy Durack) follows her pretentious ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Rob Mills) across the country to Harvard Law School and eventually realizes that she can be pretty in pink and have academic chops at the same time. She doesn’t immediately earn the respect of her more ambitious colleagues. But when her fashion prowess leads to a big legal win, her fortunes change and of course it’s a “happily ever after.”
Along the way are plenty of frothy songs, cheerleading-inspired dance routines and corny camp. There’s rarely a down moment as scenes and musical numbers flow along at a rollicking stride, not everything totally necessary, but entertaining, none-the-less. With titles like “Omigod You Guys,” “Bend and Snap,” (a female technique for sexily picking things up off the floor) and “Daughter of Delta Nu," it's nothing too serious, more a fun, boppy ride, with pacing and tone continually upbeat.
In velvet track suits and very insensible shoes, Elle’s greek chorus of sorority sisters provides most of the ensemble action, popping up to fill out songs, cheer Elle on and provide that extra 110% perk.
Choreographer Jerry Mitchell (who also directs) never misses a beat with dance moves drawing on jazz, hip hop, booty dancing, disco and stripper va-va-voom (of both the male and female variety.) It’s not the most technically demanding dancing to be seen in a musical, but effective for the spirit of the show and the co-ed ensemble relish the fun.
Highlight performances come from David Harris, as Emmett, Elle’s understated admirer. Less bombastic than Warner, Harris plays Emmett with a calm confidence and assured voice. Helen Dallimore, as Paulette, Elle’s hairdresser, gets star moments in her wacky ode to all things Irish in “Ireland,” while Erika Heynatz’s fitness guru Brooke Wyndham leads the show-stealing jump roping routine “Whipped Into Shape."
A versatile set design (by David Rockwell) creates everything from the Delta Nu house to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, dress shops and even jail cells. Like the other elements, it works well in context.
For all its confectionary aesthetics and saccharine flourishes, Legally Blonde has lots to like. It may not be the most nutritious dish around, but it's plenty enjoyable at the time of consumption.
Legally Blonde The Musical
Venue: Princess Theatre | Spring Street Melbourne
Dates: from May 9, 2013
Tickets: $99.90 – $59.90
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au | 1300 111 011