Legally Blonde

Thu 26th May – Sat 4th June 2016

reviews

Sarah McGibbon

at 09:55 on 27th May 2016

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James Dawson’s take on the musical rendition of Legally Blonde elicited giggles throughout the packed theatre and left the audience smiling. The minor technical glitches that cropped up did not overwhelm its light-hearted portrayal of the underlying messages, and the show will not disappoint, whether one is new to the story of self-discovery or an old fan.

The plot follows protagonist, Elle Woods (Katie Hook), a sorority girl and fashion major, on her journey to Harvard law school in pursuit of her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Simon Young). In trying to prove how “serious” she is to win back his affections, she discovers that she is so much more than the blonde, pink-wearing outsider her peers take her for.

I feel that it is only right that I disclose upfront that I am a lawyer, and portrayals of the legal world, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of reality, always amuse me. Although Legally Blonde did not inspire me to study law, I know that it was a significant factor in many other women’s decisions.

This tale holds a special place in my heart, not just for the enjoyable story, but because of the challenges it poses to preconceived notions of lawyers and professional women more generally, as well as gender inequality. Any production of Legally Blonde faces the difficulty of portraying these challenges and the equally important message of not letting others define your worth while still maintaining its saccharine aesthetic appeal.

The Festival Players, an amateur theatre society for all ages, offered a subtle but wonderful portrayal of these issues while still delighting the audience with the catchy tunes, dancing and colourful costumes. Hook portrayed a lovable, determined Elle and her singing was on point throughout the evening. Young was a charming but smarmy paramour, and Max Caldicott won the hearts of the ladies in the audience with his earnest performance as Emmett Forrest, Elle’s Harvard mentor. Emma Vieceli as Paulette Buonufante, Elle’s girlfriend who steps in to keep her true to herself in her moments of doubt and impresses with her strong “bend and snap” game, was a delight. One also cannot forget Bruiser, Elle’s beloved dog, who made a few “aaawww”-inducing appearances.

My biggest critique is that the singing fell flat in some parts of the performance and let down the production a bit, which is important given that this is a musical. In addition, at times, when several members of the chorus were on stage simultaneously, I felt that they were a bit uncomfortable in the space, with a few close encounters. However, the sense of enjoyment on the part of the cast overshadowed this potential discomfort. As a final point of critique, unfortunately for the cast there were a couple of technical glitches with a microphone that caused some intermittent but noticeable crackling throughout the evening.

None of this at all detracted from how much I enjoyed myself though—the warmth of the show overcame these minor problems. The feeling throughout the performance was “fun, fun, fun” and the audience (myself included) loved it! I cannot but hope that some of the women (young and not quite so young) in the audience feel inspired to become powerful, colourful lawyers one day too.

Legally Blonde warmed this lawyer’s cold heart and I highly recommend this fantastic performance of the feel-good show.

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