Photos – Jon Green
There is no doubt that the WAAPA MT class of 2015 is going to be a formidable force when they launch into the industry next year. Legally Blonde, which has opened at The Regal Theatre for a very short season could be mistaken for a national touring production.
It was a clever choice for their major musical because, aside from the notable exceptions (Elle’s parents and Professor Callahan), all of the characters were age appropriate for the cast.
Most people will be familiar with the film starring Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, the stereotypical blonde who makes good at Harvard Law. At interval I was confused and concerned about a few key characterisation changes from the film (namely Emmett and Paulette). However, as the show progressed, I realised that the entire plot had been hit with a magical “MT Wand” and that it wasn’t really trying to recreate the same characters as in the film, they were just similar in attributes. After this lightbulb moment, I had full buy-in.
Kate Thomas had the massive responsibility of performing in the title role of Legally Blonde, Elle Woods. During her scarce moments off-stage, she was frantically changing from one stunning, pink outfit to the next with no time to ensure that every hair was in place and make up still perfect. Even so, she sang without fatigue and moved with as much precision in execution as her excellent team of back up dancers. Thomas showed professionalism, dedication and was extremely well rehearsed, as was the entire production.
A giant bouquet must go to the Stage Manager, Kennah Parker and the entire backstage team. Together with the Set Design team, led by Steve Nolan and moved mostly by the cast, the stage was magically transformed from one scene to the next in a way that looked effortless. I noticed tiny little things that the Director, Jason Langley had included in the blocking to make sure that each person had a reason to be exactly where they needed to be at all times. The whole production was slick and turned with the precision of a Swiss watch.
The overall standard of each performer, from Principals to ancillary characters, was brilliant. There were some exceptional moments though, that caused spontaneous and sustained applause from the appreciative audience.
Chris Wilcox as Kyle (the UPS guy) wins the award for “Best Cameo”, hands down. With his own theme music, super tight shorts hugging equally firm buns, his masculinity was a hilarious contrast to the overtly camp demeanour celebrated by most other characters. With that said though, the “Best Cameo” award could be contested by Peanut and Winston (the adorable pooches) who elicited a warm “Awwwwww” whenever they graced the stage as Bruiser and Rufus, respectively.
It’s impossible to ignore Megan Kozak, who played alleged husband murderer, Brooke Wyndham. In my last review of her work (Urinetown), I referred to her as a “powerhouse” and that adjective would accurately describe her again in Legally Blonde. “Whipped into Shape” got the second Act off to an impressive start. Her performance, and that of her team of Cardio Whypp Guys, was nothing short of athletic.
Matilda Moran played Elle’s arch nemesis, Vivienne Morgan with captivating poise and transitioned from cruel to kind with gentle sensitivity. Likewise, Callum Sandercock embodied the sleazy, man-child Warner Huntington III, despite his charm and good looks.
Joel Granger was deliciously cute as Emmett Forrest, so I wondered how he would be able to become a love interest for Elle later in the show after starting in the role of her “Gay BFF”. As the story progressed though, and Elle’s infatuation with Warner waned, Granger took hold of the rare, self-assured moments Emmett was allowed and showed himself to be a suitable, romantic companion. Although the twist at the end of the show, which saw Elle propose instead of him, reinforced the characterisation deviations from the movie.
Legally Blonde is visually stunning and suitably impressive on all fronts. Congratulations to all of the crew, teachers, mentors and students of the Class of 2015… You did it!
The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts presents
music and lyrics Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin | book Heather Hach
Directed by Jason Langley
Venue: Regal Theatre | 474 Hay St, Subiaco
Dates: 13 – 20 June, 2015
Bookings: ticketek.com.au | 1300 795 012