Legally Blonde is Ashton Operatic Society`s latest offering, and Omigod., Omigod, Omigod, it`s totally pink!
For those of you who don`t know, then this is a Musical [ music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Neil Benjamin, and book by Heather Hach ] based on the film of the same name, which sees a rich U.S. West Coast society blonde teenager, whose glamorous high-life is assured through money and her parentsconnections going & all out for love. Her boyfriend dumps her because he wins a scholarship to Harvard, and his career now takes precedence over petty high school romance. He`s getting serious!
And so, this dumb blonde turns out to be actually extremely intelligent, follows him to the Ivy League Law School, and ends up the valedictorian at her Graduation, winning a high-profile case along the way. Of course there is some love-rivalry thrown in along the way, and no, she doesn`t end up marrying him either. Instead she falls in love with another student, and all, or at least, mostly all, ends happily ever after.
It`s a fast-moving and slick Mickey-take of the young American High Society in the 1980s and is quite banal and mono-dimensional. Described as a Teenie-Movie for the stage, then you don`t go expecting Shakespeare – but what you do get is a very talented and high-spirited cast that will ensure you are well and truly entertained for a couple of hours or so.
With some rather excellent period costumes, (The Boyz), firm and secure Musical Direction ( Paul Firth ) and some lovely, inventive and well-executed choreography ( Stacey Maurice ) this was definitely a considerable spectacle. The directing ( Lee Brennan ) was good, and he did manage to coax out of his talented cast a little more nuance in their characters making them more rounded and believable than their stereotypical film counterparts, which I wholeheartedly applauded. The set worked, although I have to admit to not particularly liking it. – a personal choice I guess. The one thing though that did irritate was that the set on most occasions was struck during the scene whilst the scene was still continuing despite there being no set there any more. I think I understand the reason for this. That being that the director wanted the show to be one continuous non-stop seamless flow, which in a Musical such as this is necessary, since there are many scenes. However, this evening at least, the set disappeared too soon on most occasions, which looked distinctly odd.
The other thing which irritated somewhat was the lighting. First; I am absolutely no fan of lighting that shines into the auditorium and onto the audience for no reason.
There seems to be at the moment a certain vogue in doing this. I have seen many Musicals recently where this happens automatically as though that is now what one has come to expect from a Musical LX plot. If it adds something to the show, or is necessary, then I don`t have any problem with it, but when it is totally gratuitous and is simply for an “effect”; as it was here, best to leave it out. The second thing is that sadly this evening the follow spot operators were having some difficulties. There were several times when they should have been covering the leads as they sang and traversed the stage, and unfortunately we were distracted by the poor coverage or indeed lack of coverage from the spots.
However, let`s go back to the acting – which was, in the main, absolutely excellent and thoroughly enjoyable. The lead role of Elle Woods was played with vim, verve and vigour by Ellie Birtles. Her erstwhile boyfriend turned would-be lawyer shark Warner Huntingdon was given a high-handed supercilious twist and expertly played by Samuel Maurice, whilst the new boyfriend in town; a quietly spoken, demure and
gentlemanly Emmett Forrest was the perfect foil for Warner`s arrogance, and was played here with unassuming charm by Dominic Dunne.
These three protagonists were supported by a plethora of talent, and the standard of singing and dancing was also very high too. It was indeed very enjoyable watching these high energy performances. I do though, wish to highlight a couple of performances, which, for me, stood out amongst the throng. Rachel Wareing`s lovely and very real but highly comedic portrayal of hairdresser Paulette was superbly measured and skilfully portrayed; whilst Gary Jones-McCaw`s excellent dancing skills, along with his lovely cameos of both Kyle and Carlos almost stole the show.
This show also employs an unashamed “Greek Chorus” of Elle`s High School Cheerleaders, known as the Delta Nu. They appear to sing and dance at almost every opportunity and this evening their dancing and singing helped enormously to move the show along and keep the pace fast and interesting. And helping the 'Aw' factor, the show starred not one but two dogs, who were extremely well behaved this evening.
Well done Vivienne and Marco ( Bruiser and Rufus).
A fun, tongue-in- cheek, teenie love story from America, given the Ashton Operatic make-over making it a wonderful, feel-good parody which will leave you wanting more! Pink is now officially my favourite colour!