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Legally Blonde review at Curve, Leicester – ‘serviceable but perky’

Lucie Jones as Elle Woods Photo credit Catherine Ashmore

Oh my God but Legally Blonde is an odd show. Of all the screen-to-stage musicals to have an on-going life one would probably not have picked this stage adaptation of the 2001 Reese Witherspoon film. It tells the story of Elle Woods, the Malibu ditz who pursues her preppie ex-boyfriend to Harvard law school and instead ends up finding self-worth and self-fulfilment (and a better boyfriend – because heaven forfend she should be without a man at the end).

But it remains incredibly popular despite its muddied feminism – there was a recent, well-received fringe version at Upstairs at the Gatehouse [1] – and it’s possible to see why. It’s a goofy and amiable show that’s able to laugh at itself, though this new production at Leicester’s Curve is not on the same level as the original London staging starring Sheridan Smith. It helps that the score is both ear-wormy and knowing – there are flashes of Curtis Sittinfeld wit in there as well as jokes about Thomas Hobbes, even if there are also moments where it begins to feel alarmingly like Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things – the Musical.

Nikolai Foster’s production is a gets-the-job-done effort playing out on a suitably garish, neon pink box-set, and though it’s not the slickest of productions and rather vocally varied, it’s perky enough and boasts warm and endearing performances from The X Factor’s Lucie Jones as Elle and Jon Robyns as Emmett, the man who loves her just the way she is – you end up rooting for them despite everything.

Legally Blonde is a celebratory, female-led show and Elle wins the day (through superior knowledge of haircare rather than anything resembling actual lawyering, obviously) and while it’s insubstantial as a kitten’s sneeze, it’s not without its pleasures.

Verdict
Serviceable revival of the screen-to-stage musical that’s not without its charms

Production

Production
Legally Blonde
Venue
Curve
City
Leicester
Starts
April 11, 2016
Ends
May 14, 2016
Press night
April 14, 2016
Book
Heather Hach
Music
Nell Benjamin, Laurence O’Keefe
Lyrics
Nell Benjamin, Laurence O’Keefe
Director
Nikolai Foster
Musical director
Bob Broad
Choreographer
Nick Winston
Design
Matthew Wright
Sound
Tom Marshall
Video
Louise Rhoades-Brown
Technical
Sarah Travis (orchestrator)
Stage manager
Guy Ongley, Alexa Penny (company stage managers), Elaine Yeong (DSM)
Cast includes
Lucie Jones, Ian Kelsey, Jon Robyns, Danny Mac, Natalie Hope, Phoebe Street, Francesca Hoffman, Jack Harrison-Cooper, Cristina Hoey, Darren Bennett, Jamal Andreas, Natalie Woods, Rachel Stanley, Rebecca-Jayne Davies, Martin McCarthy, Genesis Lynea, Lawrence Robb
Producer
Leicester Curve
Running time
2 hrs, 25 mins