Legally Blonde: The Musical - New Wimbledon Theatre (Review)
Review by David Munro
LEGALLY Blonde, the tour of which is now at The New Wimbledon Theatre, was designated a ‘hit’ when it was running at The Savoy Theatre but it must have been a different show from the lacklustre version in Wimbledon.
I was always told if you can’t say something nice don’t speak but my job is to report to you my views and so I will – although I will keep it as short as I can.
After the brilliant 42nd Street it came as quite a shock to see a production with an inaudible leading lady, makeshift costumes and sets which looked as though they had been thrown up on the spur of the moment.
The plot, which involves a spoilt girl enrolling in Harvard Law School to chase her boyfriend and who ends up with the poor but brilliant student, has a lot of potential; but not in this production where scenes made no sense and the dancing (by a very hard working and charismatic chorus line) was dated and reminded me of some of the worst musicals of the last century before Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett and Susan Stroman revolutionised the genre; the fault I fear of the director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell!
However, all was not doom and gloom. A newcomer, Iwan Lewis, as the student who is lumbered with the heroine at the final curtain, showed a great deal of promise and I feel he will go onto bigger and better productions with great success.
Jennifer Ellison as the hairdresser confidante proved there is life after Dancing on Ice and brought a welcome professional and very funny performance to the show; and, of course, I cannot overlook the two little dogs (yes, real dogs) who proved to be little troupers and should have been starred in the place of those currently so designated.
Whether I would have enjoyed the evening more had I been able to hear all the dialogue I cannot say. It certainly was detrimental to have a cast and a leading lady so determined to be American that it was difficult to understand a word they said.
All the girls twittered like a flock of starlings and the men (with one or two notable exceptions) growled like John Wayne on an old soundtrack – in fact, some of the funniest moments in the piece were provided by a virtually silent husky deliveryman with his pastiche walk and western roll – sadly, I never caught his stage name so cannot give credit where credit is due.
As for the designated “stars” I think I have clarified my views on them. I will only add that I find it strange that top billing is given to a singer who has only one number and very little else to do during the evening. Sic Transit Gareth Gates.
As you must have gathered by now I cannot really recommend this piece. I would, however, suggest that the title should be changed from Legally Blonde to the more appropriate Dramatically Dire!
Legally Blonde -Based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown
Book by Heather Hach
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Director & Choreographer – Jerry Mitchell
Designer – David Rockwell
Costume design – Gregg Barnes
Lighting – Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller
Sound – Acme Sound Partners
Musical director – Peter White
CAST: Gareth Gates – Fay Brookes – Jennifer Ellison – Iwan Lewis – Andy Mace – Gemma Baird – Lewis Griffiths – Hannah Grover – Sophie Isaacs – Sinead Long -Tracey Penn – Micha Richardson – Mark Anderson – Lori Barker – Siamh Bracken – Antony Hewitt – Kath-Marie Hicks – Nia Jermin – Graham Lappin – Rhona McGregor – Chris Milford – Zak Nemorin – Andy Rees – Jon Reynolds – Amy Ross – Michael Steeedon – Barnaby Thompson – Hannah Woolley
Presented by Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group, Bill Kenwright, Tulchin/Bartner Productions and James Hendry Productions.
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG
From Tues, September 25 to Sat, October 6, 2012
Evenings – 7.30 pm/Matinees – Thurs & Sat 2.30pm
Box Office: 0870 060 6646