REVIEW: LEGALLY BLONDE (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre)

The film Legally Blonde is the reason I studied law at university. I’m not even kidding. I’m also the biggest fan of Six the Musical. So it was with much anticipation and excitement that I headed to the Open Air Theatre to see Lucy Moss’s take on this cult classic.

While it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations, there were a lot of outstanding performances. Sadly, as a whole, it was chaotic and tacky.

As the opening number began, I visibly recoiled at what I was hearing and was worried that this would set the tone for the whole show.

Happily, it vastly improved once we met the principles, who are all extremely talented.

Courtney Bowman (Elle) is an absolute star. Her voice is exquisite and her stage presence is a joy to behold. Her raw emotion shone through her singing and I would happily listen to her all night.

Michael Ahomka-Lindsay is a fab Emmet and the new backstory provides a lot more depth to his character. His chemistry with Bowman feels genuine and their performance of Legally Blonde was sublime and very touching.

Lauren Drew (Brooke) may be the fittest person I’ve ever seen; she performed an entire workout (including skipping) whilst singing Whipped into Shape. It was incredible and a phenomenal opening to the second act.

Nadine Higgin is an incredible actor and is now my favourite Paulette. Her performance far exceeded that of Jennifer Coolidge and I adored her take on the character.

Liam McEvoy (Bruiser) does a brilliant job embodying his canine character, but – while I appreciate that real animals can be tricky to work with – having an actor in a body stocking adds to the overall pantomime feel.

While Laura Hopkin’s set is simple but effective, Ellen Kane’s choreography (did I mention the amazing Whipped into Shape?) is excellent.

Unfortunately, the costumes are horrifically garish, with clashing colours and bizarre style choices that cheapen the whole production. The bright/dull contrast for Malibu (and Paulette) vs Boston does work, but primarily the outfits are just tacky, which is a shame as Elle is supposed to be a fashionista.

The new message that we can all be whoever we want to be brings a new dynamic to the story and it works well, especially with Emmet’s journey to Harvard. Yet although Elle is learning to be true to herself, she still expects Emmet to dress better, which feels contradictory to the whole concept.

A commendable adaption, but sadly disappointing. It could have been So Much Better.

★★★

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes