Regular readers of this review page may have formed a picture of me from my writings. I will admit to being enthusiastic, often emotional and passionate about the enjoyment of a good performance to the point of welling with tears on occasions. However, gentle readers, I must acquaint those who are unaware with two solid facts. First, I am not female, and secondly, I am certainly no longer in my twenties. This means that I am frankly a little outside the target demographic for Legally Blonde.
This is a show of breathless energy and waves of cacophonous sound, all wrapped up in a curious set of American moral values where the campus sorority pledge is the firmest guarantee that can be given. Love and success are presented as intermingled commodities, at least at first.
This liberating female dominated show gets off to a rather worrying start for me when our heroine, dumped by her true love, sets out to meet and exceed his academic ambitions, rather than the time honoured Norfolk gal tradition of just giving him a good smack in the gob. Our heroine Elle Woods is played with huge energy and a suitable amount of screech by the talented Lucie Jones who adds formidable singing and dancing talent to the role once made famous by Reece Witherspoon in the film of the same name.
So the dizzy blonde with the handbag dog follows her heartless amour to Harvard Law, where she sets about proving that this blonde ain’t so dumb. She is assisted throughout her endeavours by her UCLA cheerleading squad, who are just as shy and retiring as you might expect from a group of American teens who wear skimpy outfits to go on sports fields and shout at the world. With pom-poms. She also gleans a ferocious ally in the form of hairdresser Paulette Bonafonté (Rita Simons) who is simultaneously seeking an Irish prince to lift her out of the trailer trash life she has fallen into. Rita Simons has the most powerful voice in this loud show, and makes the most of it with some style.
Elle makes good use of her intuitive understanding of people to help to try and win a key legal case where a famous fitness instructor stands trial for the alleged murder of her old rich husband. The plot is largely described in song with varying degrees of brash sentiment but universally high levels of energy which outline legal courtroom dilemmas such as ‘is he gay or European?’ This raised more than a titter from the back rows of the circle.
The initially heartbroken Elle finds a supportive friend in the form of Emmett (David Barrett) who has battled his way to success from single-parent poverty. In the fiercely competitive Harvard environment they co-operate to secure the coveted scholarships on offer from Professor Callahan (Bill Ward) which open a door to the dizzy heights of a US legal career.
Needless to say Elle is on a rollercoaster ride throughout the show. Will she succeed in this aggressive, male world? Will she get to grips with every nuance of the law? Will she get her cad of a boyfriend back? You will of course have to get yourselves to the Theatre Royal this week to find out the answers, and if you do you will be rewarded with a lively show well delivered by a high energy cast.
While this show may not be my cup of tea I found the enthusiasm infectious, and the continuous spectacle is undeniable. Were your attention tempted to stray for a second or two the producers have two secret weapons, Bruiser and Rufus. Bruiser is the tiniest of Chihuahuas, while Rufus is really Winston, the local hero bulldog. Their appearance guarantees a few ‘oohs and aahs’ from the audience and for this evening at least their choreography matched the finest of the human offerings. This is a lively song and dance packed riot of a musical which leaves everyone cheerful. I walked away following a happy bunch of teenagers singing the songs from this happy show on their way home.
© Julian Swainson 2018
Listing: Legally Blonde, Monday March 26-31, 2018. Tickets £8-£45. Eves 7.30pm, Mats Wed & Sat 2.30pm. Discounts for Friends & Corporate Club, Over-60s, Under-18s and Groups. Audio-described performance on Saturday March 31 at 2.30pm. For more info or to BOOK ONLINE www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk