Theatre review - Legally Blonde at Palace Theatre Manchester

PUBLISHED: 11:49 29 June 2018

Legally Blone the Musical, Manchester
Credit: Robert Workman

Legally Blone the Musical, Manchester Credit: Robert Workman

Archant

An outstanding evening filled with music, dance and laughter; Legally Blonde The Musical is an absolutely top night out, says Kate Houghton.

Lucie Jones as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical, Manchester
Credit: Robert WorkmanLucie Jones as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical, Manchester Credit: Robert Workman

Having seen the film, I naively thought I knew what to expect when I attended Legally Blonde, The Musical at the Palace Theatre in Manchester – I was very wrong, in the best possible way.

The basic premise of the story, and the storyline itself, remains unchanged – ditzy blonde Elle Woods, president of her sorority, dreams of nothing more than marriage to her college love, Warner. He, however, has other plans. Serious plans that require a serious girlfriend/wife on his arm, as he graduates from Harvard Law and starts his, sure to be successful, career. His plans certainly do not include a bubblegum pink, candyfloss light Valley girl. He needs a Jackie, she’s a Marilyn. Stung by his dismissal, Elle vows to win him back by proving that she can be serious too and wins a place of her own at Harvard Law. She eventually realises that simply being there doesn’t deliver her dream, she still has much to prove – and does it in true perfectly pink style.

Rita Simons as Paulette Bonafonté with hunky delivery man, Kyle, played by Ben Harlow
Credit: Robert WorkmanRita Simons as Paulette Bonafonté with hunky delivery man, Kyle, played by Ben Harlow Credit: Robert Workman

If you’re expecting the film, with songs thrown in to entertain, well, you’re about 10% of the way there to understanding how this musical has achieved the rave reviews it has over the last 11 years. It’s, like, WAY more than that.

From the opening scene we’re treated to fast moving, fabulously choreographed, fun and brilliantly delivered songs and dances that soon sweep the entire audience up into a high.

Elle Woods is, on this tour, played by Lucie Jones, who has a comic talent put to excellent use in this role. There’s nothing subtle about Ms. Jones’ portrayal of Elle Woods, from her giddy highs to her desperate lows, with every emotion in between, we all know exactly how she feels. It’s brilliant. My 15 year old daughter and her friend were in stitches of laughter and whooping and cheering along with the rest – a pretty spectactular feat, as their usual attitude is one of ultra-cool disdain. Lucie’s voice is strong and note perfect, certainly no complaints there!

It’s safe to say however that the real star of the show is Rita Simons, who plays a brilliant Paulette Bonafonté, the hairdresser with a big heart who becomes Elle’s confidant and cheerleader and who in turn is rescued by Elle, first by retrieving her beloved dog Rufus from her revolting ex and then through the iconic Bend and Snap routine, when she wins the heart of struttingly handsome UPS delivery man Kyle, who is brilliantly played by Ben Harlow. Their Irish dancing scene threatens to bring the house down, another example of how comedy is so cleverly wound throughout this marvellous show. I’m not going to attempt to explain it, you’ll have to go see it.

This is a show that defines ‘feel good’. It will have you rooting for Elle, as she discovers that she not only has a voice, but a role in the world that doesn’t rely on a man and a Bergdorf Goodman’s charge card (though this she would never, ever sacrifice) but on hard work, loyalty, honesty and friendship. (It’s quite the message, I really hope my teen girl heard it!) and it will have you on your feet by the end of the night, joining the cast in their last big number, before leaving feeling happy and breathless with the fun of it all.

PS: be prepared to aaahhhh at the dogs. The tiny and sweet Chihuahua Bruiser, Elle’s dog, makes multiple appearances, but the star must be the adorably happy British Bulldog Doug, a local chap who plays Paulette’s much-loved dog Rufus with adorable panache. And then waits outside the theatre ready to meet his adoring public…

Legally Blonde the Musical plays at The Palace Theatre Manchester until 30 June. Tickets: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/legally-blonde/palace-theatre-manchester

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