REVIEW: LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL (Bournemouth Pavilion) ★★★★
Amateur only in the title ‘Amateur dramatic’, the opening night of the Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company (BBLOC) performance of Legally Blonde The Musical was funny, feisty and fabulous. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, Legally Blonde The Musical is the story of the optimistic blonde college girl Elle Woods who, after being dumped by her boyfriend for ‘not being serious enough’ manages to get into Harvard Law School to study with him and prove just how serious she can be.
The opening number ‘OMIGOD YOU GUYS’ was filled with life and enthusiasm and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Sarah Bayliss nailed the part of Elle, bringing to life both the whimsical, pink-obsessed girl and serious, hard-working academic in perfect balance. With powerful vocals and delicious sass she commanded the stage from beginning to the end, upstaged only by Chico, the chihuahua playing Elle’s beloved pet dog and ‘family member’.
Adam Mecklenburgh played Emmett, the only boy who seems to see Elle for the intelligence she has rather than her outer beauty. Played with the suitable level of awkwardness he did not fail to impress. Similarly Paul Matthews (who played Elle’s original love interest) performed well with a convincing arrogance necessary for the role, although his voice did seem shaky towards the beginning of the musical.
Sally Wheeler played the role of Paulette, Elle’s quirky hairdresser who becomes a vital friend. Comedic with a phenominal voice and captivating facial expressions, Wheeler was a crowd favourite. Her accent was unwavering and realistic, her lines delivered with precise timing to maximise their comic effect.
Act one was jam-packed with energy, sparkles and a whole lot of pink. The peppy songs matched the colourful stage and the seemingly boundless energy of the leads and chorus alike made the piece come alive, compensating for the occassional weakness seen in the performance of Matthews. Capable of bringing a smile and a chuckle to even the most deadpan of viewers, the cast had the audience in stitches of laughter whilst still managing to evoke sympathy for Elle’s plight, succeeding even in extracting an audible ‘aw’ after Elle’s break-up. Act two opened with a number even more energised than act one. ‘Whipped into shape’ was like a hybrid of an intensive work out and a music video, sung incredibly by Heather Davis, who accomplished singing it without losing her breath despite the upbeat and intense choreography!
Overall, a strong and entertaining opening night. To call it ‘am-dram’ would not do it justice. Playing at Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 23rd July 2016, it is worth doing a bend and snap to pick up a ticket because such a successful realisation of this show is rare.
Reviewed by Thomas Barrett