Legally Blonde

Date 28th September 2018
Society CODY Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Princes Hall, Aldershot
Type of Production Musical
Director Sue Sampson
Musical Director Zoe Hardy
Choreographer Lisa Fletcher

Report

Author: Pauline Surrey

‘Dumb’ blonde educates herself, surpasses everybody’s expectations, and finally wins not only the right man, but also a glowing career.  Elle Woods is totally shocked when, instead of the marriage proposal she had been expecting, her ambitious boyfriend, Warner, on his way to Havard Law School, ends their relationship. He requires, for his future success, it seems, a more ‘serious’ partner. Elle enrols in Havard Law School herself, knuckles down to her studies, and wins an important case, overtaking Warner in the matter of career prospects. She realises that Emmett, who had helped her commit herself to her studies, is the real man for her. Simple but fun story. A production full of energy, vim and pizzazz.

The colourful, large (A4 size) programme had space enough for good production team and cast profiles; excellent rehearsal photos; a full explanation of the US Sorority and Fraternity system (I have always wondered); a company history and a list of past productions. All very helpful, and a delight to read.

The sets were useful and believable, manual set changes were rather nice, well executed, and provided a restful moment between the fast-paced action and youthful energy of the performers! Do dogs count as props? They certainly caused a great deal of oohing and aahing!

In this show there was a LOT of pink. Pink dresses, pyjamas, shoes, lipstick – indeed it was so refreshing, indeed restful, when Elle donned her smart blue suit for the courtroom scene. The other characters’ costumes were all interesting, with a shiny silver leotard for Brooke, and a very tight pair of fetching shorts for delivery driver Kyle remaining in my mind. The costumes for the Greek Chorus were especially fine, I felt.

I must praise the excellent choreography by Lisa Fletcher. The dance numbers were slick, effervescent, so energetic and great to watch – especially the skipping scene in the gym. My companion and I wondered how one could skip and sing non-stop for a whole number (and for Brooke, for 2 whole numbers very close together!) The Irish Dance number was also fine, and very amusing.  Musical Direction was great, well done, Zoe Hardy. Sound was a slight issue though. Sitting in the balcony, we did find the music drowning out the singing on occasion, was that the same in the stalls, I wonder?

I had had misgivings as I had read up on the plot of Legally Blonde before attending the show, but they were soon blown away by the sheer bouncy fun of the opening number, by the obvious delight our sorority sisters were feeling at, well, just being alive, being young, and being in such a supportive society as Delta Nu.

As the story unfolded, and we got to know the characters, and the very real issues emerged, my enjoyment (and the acceptance of all that pink!) grew. We all know characters like the ambitious but rather shallow Warner; the downtrodden Paulette, ever unlucky in love; the entitled, groping Professor; the genuine, kind, supportive and accepting Emmett, a true friend; and the ‘always look on the bright side’, positive and determined Elle. And here, in Cody’s fine production, excellent casting meant that these were fully rounded, memorable characters, even the smaller roles.

Humour there was in abundance, and the cast brought this over very well, Paulette’s yearning for the golden dream that was ‘Ireland’, for example, or ‘Bend and Snap’, where the girls encourage Paulette to adopt this cheerleaders’ move to angle her man; or the courtroom number: ‘Gay or European?’ where a man’s evidence is suspect – well of course, he’s either gay or European!

Lucy Egan shone as Elle Woods, giving the character depth, as well as likeability, energy and fine singing. On stage practically throughout the show, she made it her own, carrying it off with style and great aplomb. A marvellous portrayal of the power of positivity, grit in the face of adversity, and sheer determination.

Samantha da Silva gave us a superb character portrayal as Elle’s hairdresser and friend Paulette. Very supportive of Elle, yet damaged by past relationships, and thus rather lacking in confidence herself, we all feel for her, and root for her once she sets eyes on the dishy and, well, Irish, Kyle. Of course, she gets her man, and 3 bonny children, and we all smile with delight.  A clever, thoughtful performance, full of great body language and humour, especially in all things Irish here – her wistful ode to that country, and the comical river dance with Kyle and the company.

Strong performances too from Philip Mumford as Emmett, and Martin Sampson as Professor Callaghan. The contrast between the emancipated, egalitarian modern young man, Emmett, who sees more in Elle than anyone else, and helps her settle into college and progress her studies, and the traditional grey-suited misogynist, the entitled Professor Callaghan, who realising Elle’s worth, gives her chances, yet of course wants the traditional ‘payment’ in the end, could not be stronger.

We have of course to thank not only the great cast, but also Sue Sampson for her fine direction, she gave each character the space to develop, brought out the depth in the story, and ensured that we saw a show which was a joy to watch, and gave the appearance of effortless achievement - though of course we know it was the result of tremendous hard work (especially for those skippers!)