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Legally Blonde at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 30th May 2018 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

By Quentin Fox

Reviewed 28 May 2018Legally Blonde poster

The audience at the Milton Keynes Theatre returned a unanimous verdict on the courtroom spoof-fest that is Legally Blonde - The Musical: it’s a guilty pleasure so enjoyable that it could turn us into repeat offenders.

Most people will come to this show as fans of the 2001 movie that starred Reese Witherspoon as the ditzy Californian fashion major Elle Woods who, on being dumped for someone more serious, ups her intellectual game to follow him to Harvard Law School to try and win him back.

But here’s some advice: forget Reese and the film because the stage version brings out the huge comedic power of the show to much greater effect. It’s so good that it may actually spoil the movie for you – in the best way possible.

This is a musical that shows its historical pedigree from beginning to end: Broadway smash, West End winner of three Olivier awards and then world-wide accolades. In this, its most recent iteration, cast, book and design come together in a production of preposterous pink perfection.

Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin's words and music are distinctly ‘new school musical’ with little to offer in terms of show-stopping classics but much to give in terms of witty and punchy lyrics that will have you snickering on your way home: "Keep it positive/as you slap her to the floor. Keep it positive/as you pull her hair and call her whore," the sorority sisters of Delta Nu belt out in ‘Positive’, their hymn to peppy enthusiasm; or "Gay or European?/ So many shades of grey/ Depending on the time of day, the French go either way,” sing the courtroom throng in determining the how truth of the testimony of Nikos the pool boy. It’s a high-camp zinger. You get the feeling throughout the production that the writers had a blast putting it together and the cast are enjoying themselves too – it’s infectious stuff.

As Elle, X Factor & Eurovision entrant Lucie Jones shows the warmth, spirit and optimism that fuels the fluffy freshman. She’s got a great voice that could have been genetically designed for musicals but just as important in this show is her sense of comic timing. She’s not a born dancer but she admirably keeps up with the supremely well-drilled hoofing of the ensemble.

There’s more immaculate timing, too, from EastEnders’ Rita Simons, who excels as Paulette Bonafonte, the lovelorn beautician who first becomes Elle’s BFF and then first client. It’s a role that demands both hard-boiled and soft-hearted and she well merits the cheering that greets her every number.

Bill Ward, late (and I choose that word carefully) of both Coronation Street and Emmerdale is also on top form as Professor Callaghan, whose Rat Pack-style numbers are models of slickness and power but with a splendid underlying greasiness essential to the character.

A mention in dispatches, too, goes to Helen Petrovna who does a star turn with the skipping rope as fitness guru Brooke Wyndham. Note to producers: next time her abs get their own billing.

Legally Blonde: The Musical runs at Milton Keynes Theatre at 7.30pm from May 28 to June 2. Matinees are at 2.30pm on May 30 and June 2

Box office 0844 871 7652

http://www.atgtickets.com

Booking fee applies


 

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