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Review: Legally Blonde, The Opera House Manchester
Before we go any further, let’s get this straight: Legally Blonde’s storyline is in no way connected to reality, but it is fun, frivolous and endearingly absurd. And it happens to contain cute dogs, which always helps.
For those who missed the equally-glitzy Hollywood film, the story sees a Malibu-born fashion student conquer Harvard law school and become a courtroom star, whilst learning a lot about herself along the way.
The show starts with lead character Elle Woods (played by Faye Brookes) expecting a proposal from beau Warner (Gareth Gates). Alas, her plans are dashed when he dumps her for somebody more ‘serious’.
So, off she goes to Harvard law school (as you do), where she is at first mercilessly mocked for her pink outfits, silly grin and ditzy style. But, after meeting post-graduate Emmett (a strong all-round performance from Iwan Lewis) she reads a book or two. She is then accepted as an intern by a top lawyer who's defending a fitness guru in a murder trial.
This is a musical where ‘gaydar’ and a good knowledge of hair and fashion are as likely to win a case as years of legal training. The production, directed by Jerry Mitchell, certainly gives the film a run for its money - in fact, in parts, it surpasses it.
Former popstar Gareth Gates gives an unfaltering vocal performance but has a relatively peripheral role overall. Jennifer Ellison, as fantastically-named hairdresser/beautician Paulette Buonufonte, has a larger supporting role and the sub-plot of her budding relationship with the ridiculously macho (read: camp) messenger boy, Kyle (Lewis Griffiths) is a welcome addition.
Faye Brookes has obviously studied Reese Witherspoon’s Elle from the film, but in parts is far more vibrant. Her general exuberance and sense of mischief carry many of the scenes and her singing is spot-on throughout.
The show copes well with a lot of set changes and it was pleasing to see a musical number shoe-horned into most scenes.
The appearances of not one but two dogs throughout the show consistently thrill the audience, adding further weight to the fact that the British will always be nation of dog lovers.
The nonsensical fairytale story doesn’t matter to the audience; it is a production that doesn’t take itself too seriously and ticks all the boxes of a feel-good night out!
On until 22 September 2012
Review: Katy Ratican
Images: Johan Persson
Date: 12 September 2012
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