REVIEW: Legally Blonde @ Empire Theatre 07/02/12

The musical adaptation of the feel good comedy starring Reese Witherspoon has been a huge hit in the West End, and after a sell out run at the Liverpool Empire last July it returns again with some familiar faces in the cast. Sammy Pollock reviews

After a slightly wobbly start – with an argument in the stalls and the stunning interior of the Liverpool Empire proving more entertaining than the opening couple of numbers – the show thankfully kicks up a gear, delivering just the right amount of pink, glitz and glam for the perfect night out.

For those unfamiliar with the story, we follow bubbly, blonde bombshell Elle Woods on her quest for love which sees her enroll at Harvard Law School to impress Warner, her ex-boyfriend who breaks her heart in the search for someone more eligible who could adhere to his parents strict standards.

Faye Brookes proved herself as the perfect cast for Elle, fitting the bubbly persona. Taking a well established movie and taking it to the stage can be risky business and Reese Witherspoon was always going to be a hard act to follow, incredibly Faye triumphs, skilfully taking control of the role whilst even having a distinct resemblance to the Hollywood star, from where I was sitting at least.

The comedic elements of the story are brilliantly translated to the stage, with plenty of hysterically funny moments and clever, witty lyrics and music.

Claire Sweeney shines as hairdresser Paulette – a naturally funny performance that accounted for the majority of the nights laughter from her home crowd. Belting out the tunes as confidently as her starring role as Roxy Heart in Chicago, Claire was the star of the show. Putting in an outstanding performance that should have came with spare sides for anyone with a sense of humour, it was refreshing to see her grace the stage so wonderfully in her home town.

Les Dennis and Ray Quinn make it a hat-trick of scousers. Playing Elle’s removed lover Warner, Ray disguises his heavy accent well, replacing it with a deceiving American twang. And who would have known Les Dennis could give Michael Bublé a run for his money? Les put in a strong shift as Professor Callahan, committing to the role, remarkably you can take him seriously as a top notch lawyer.

The level of singing on offer is in large, surprisingly high. With Claire Sweeney, Les Dennis and Micha Richardson (as Pilar) all sharing a vocal ability that would suit the Echo Arena just as fiercely, the musical aspect of the show certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Choreographer, Dominic Shaw brings the story to life with a true spectacle. From the small moves as simple as a foot tap, to the Irish dancing and cheerleading extraordinaire’s, each routine was perfectly executed with credit to the cast. A particular routine that would see them in the final of Got to Dance, was a skipping rope whirlwind of energy, orange prison jumpsuits adding to the moving visual masterpiece.

Aside from a genius appearance from Lewis Griffiths, the excellently trained chiwawa and pitbull thrive in their role of providing the cute factor. Lewis plays Kyle, the buff delivery man who marries Paulette under the charm of the infamous bend and snap. Joining forces with Paulette in arguably the most hilarious scene, Kyle struts his stuff to the woo’s of the female’s in the audience, no questions as to why Lewis was cast for the role, and that’s before hearing his portfolio includes The Full Monty.

Legally Blonde The Musical successfully makes the transition from screen to stage. Men can empathise with the wit and women will be transfixed as they watch an incredible classic. Blondes will be inspired and all will be laughing. Even sitting next to the blondest blonde the story was believable (OMIGOD), It’s really not to be missed.

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