Legally Blonde

Date 8th March 2022
Society 4Sixteen Theatre Company
Venue Castle Newnham School, Bedford
Type of Production Musical
Director Luke Skeel & Tara Hutchings
Musical Director Emily Green & Jack Serino
Choreographer Letitia Bonson
Producer Luke Skeel & Tara Hutchings

Report

Author: Richard Fitt

If you are serious about performing arts in Bedford, you are unlikely to do better than to start off by going to Castle Newnham School with its excellent performing arts department, dedicated staff and purpose-built studio. I have been going there since 2016 and every year the facilities just get better and better. This year for example, tiered audience seating had been added thus eliminating all sight problems. I will be cheeky enough to suggest adding padding to the seats as the next improvement and perfection will have been reached.

The set for this version of Legally Blonde was simplicity itself, being a bare stage with a stage-width staircase to the rear, entrances being from the rear and either side of the front of the stage. The embedded LED, demarcation, floor lighting much enhanced the scene and helped to set the atmosphere, very well complimented by Ben Cronin’s well thought out lighting design. Furniture and props were therefore seamlessly brought on and off the stage by the cast in a perfectly coordinated and speedy manner as required for each scene. Extremely well done.

Sound however is something I did have a problem with I’m afraid. It took me several minutes and a couple of scenes to accustom and actually hear what the cast were saying and singing. I don’t think it was anybody doing anything wrong but micing the whole cast and putting it through overpowering speakers in a small studio was a little distorting for my ears and slightly disorientating as to the direction of where the performer’s voice was coming from, even when standing directly in front of me. As somebody from an older generation of acting I have to ask what happened to good old fashioned non electronic projection? That said Emily Green and Jack Serino were spot on with the sound track, everything on cue and not a missed beat throughout this slickly presented show.

Costumes by Tara Hutchings, a mixture of being sourced and provided by the cast themselves were absolutely spot on. The pink theme throughout especially the cheerleaders outfits certainly stood out, as indeed did the contrasting orange prisoner suits.

The choreography by Letitia Bonson was particularly outstanding, extremely well drilled, very entertaining and at times such as in. “Bend and Snap”, highly amusing.

Sophie Norsworthy as the star of the show, Elle Woods was absolutely ideal for this part. I first saw her in The Lion King back in 2016 and she is the perfect example of how the school has helped someone mature into an extremely competent actress. Her confidence, concentration, body language and particularly her facial expressions are now of the highest quality. This young lady also has the rare gift of being able to act just with her eyes and knows how to use them very effectively indeed. I think she will be adorning many a stage in the years to come.

Josh Rennell as Emmett Forrest certainly held their own with Elle as her eventual suiter.  They played it quite low key which I thought was clever and certainly enhanced their character as the good guy in the story.

Ethan Chantrelle as the vain self-seeking Warner was also very well played, he got the balance between selfish and social pretty much spot on, thus avoided the trap of being a completely one dimensional idiot.

Darcey Murphy as hairdresser Paulette is certainly a lady who can sing and dance, her rendition of ‘Ireland’ was definitely one of the highlights of the show. And, she is no slouch on the acting front either with some wonderful facial expressions. Her command of the deliberate pause in the end scene when Elle leaves the stage and must be given time to change was a comic delight. Excellent timing!

Keira Alleyne as fitness guru Brook Wyndam, accused of murder and successful defended in court by Elle, gave us an excellent version of ‘Whipped into Shape’ whilst Verity Edmonds (Kate), Charlie Menelas (Serena), Ava Kelly (Margot) and Sophie Bell (Pilar) were the perfect “Delta Nu” sorority girls providing some great singing in most of the musical numbers such as ‘Omigod You Guys’ and ‘Daughters of Delta Nu’. Nice work girls.

Izzy Casling as Professor Callahan, the first time I’ve seen this part played by a female actress, was extremely commanding in the role. Just took over the stage every time she appeared. Excellent performance.

Lorena Perez-Castellano, very well played as Warner’s new girlfriend Vivienne got the defensive aggressive look of defending her own position in Elle’s presence very well indeed, so her final conciliatory act to Elle was brilliantly memorable. Nice touch.

Alex Chance raised a chuckle or two as the UPS delivery driver Kyle and Grandmaster Chad. Talking of chuckles everybody’s favourite character has to be the dog, Bruiser comically voiced by Harrison Clifford-Simmons. Loved it!

Overall, this was a very well drilled cast, extremely competent, who knew exactly what they were doing and most important of all were obviously enjoying every minute of it. So well done to all those already mentioned as well as the supporting cast of Chloe Bowering, Ace Adams, Catrin Leverett, Daphne Wilks, Gracie Carpenter, Ruby Crook, Bethany Rogers, Cassidy Tulloch, Lucas Monk, Maisie Perry, Mica Bedeau, Mia Young, Willow Togara, Katie Roffe, Isobel Currie and Daisy Loft (who also alternates as Elle Woods).

And not forgetting the hardworking backstage crew of Isabel Edwards, Maria Wightman, James Johnstone, Sofia Tomei-Riccio, , Erin Trotter and Rosalind Foster led by Bethan Lee.

And finally a huge well done indeed to directors, Tara Hutchings and Luke Skeel for a very entertaining evening. Bedford’s school Performing Arts is alive and well and living in Polhill Avenue. Nice one 4SIXTEEN!