|Date||17th March 2022|
|Society||TOPS On Stage|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Angelo Dellar-Tsocos|
|Choreographer||Karyn Wilson and Emma Wilson|
Author: Zahna Hull
We received a warm welcome at the Thameside Theatre for the latest production from TOPS on Stage. There was a healthy audience for opening night. The orchestra is on view in the auditorium as with previous productions and the standard of the music was outstanding with a talented musical director ( Angelo Deller-Tsocos) and equally talented musicians.
The sets were minimal but effective, especially for the size of the theatre. I appreciated the way certain set-items could be rotated to quickly flip the scenes, for example when the court house turned into a bathroom, or a closed door turned to reveal the emotions of characters on both sides of it.
There were a few first night technical hitches, with sound, lighting and set changes but nothing that distracted from the show itself.
Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods (Charlotte Cavedasca), A committed member of the Delta Nu sorority at her Californian University, who seems to have it all. She wants to marry her boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Chris Foale) to complete her perfect life. Her plans are thwarted when Warner dumps Elle as he is moving away for ‘serious life’ at Harvard Law. So, Elle decides to follow Warner to Harvard hoping to win him back.
Elle is very pink, very blonde and does not fit with the serious nature of Harvard but she enlists her Sorority friends to wow the college entry system and gets in. Over the course of the show, she makes friends, wins the hearts of her contemporaries and eventually wins back Warner but now she realises she doesn’t need him anymore.
The choreography in the show is brilliant; Emma Wilson and Karyn Wilson did a fabulous job. Every cast member had joy on their faces and kept their characters throughout the dance numbers. At times the music drowned out the singing, but overall, the ensemble numbers were enjoyable.
Elle’s closest friends were very talented each having their own characters, fabulous singing voices, and bright sorority girl costumes. I loved the hair-tossing, gum-chewing, fun vibe the girls had. The accents were really good too.
Charlotte Cavedasca played, the stereotypical blonde, Elle Woods well and it was great to see the progression of her character. It was easy to warm to her as she learned to love law and brought her ‘Elle magic’ to other characters in the show. Charlotte has a strong voice and her relationships were believable and this was aided by the equally impressive performances of the other actors. Chris Foale played the smarmy Warner Huntington III, a clean-cut young man who seemed more interested in his image than any lasting relationship. Vivienne Kensington, played by Sydney Price, was Warner’s ‘serious’ girlfriend. Sydney also showed excellent characterisation and she saw through Warner’s shallowness toward the end of the show when she supported Elle.
Michael Lambert played Professor Callaghan. The song ‘Blood in the Water’ was a great showcase for Michael’s talent. Professor Callaghan is the professor that all the students want to impress but his integrity was shattered when he tried to kiss Elle.
Fin Patterson played Emmett Forest, Fin has a natural stage presence and a fabulous singing voice. Emmett was very understanding and accepting of Elle and despite being her superior he became her friend and supporter.
Elle also makes a friend at the beauty salon she visits while at Harvard. Paulette Buonofuonte was played by Katey Flaherty, who stood in for the previous actress who was ill for the performance. Katey did a fabulous job. Elle worked her magic on Paulette’s relationship too, using her Legal skill to get Paulette’s dog back and encouraging her to speak to the UPS guy. Martin Wilderspin Lovell played a few characters including both Paulette’s love interests and he played them really well, from the slovenly ex to the cool UPS guy. Martin is a great character actor and he definitely added to the comedy of the piece.
Brooke Wyndam is the subject of a murder case and Elle and her team have to try to defend her. Brooke is played by Natalie Hills and I could really see a Madonna vibe to her. Finding a connection because of their sorority, Elle is tasked with finding a way to get Brooke off the hook without revealing the actual alibi.
In the nick of time, Elle saves Brooke by discovering that a prime witness is gay (rather than European!) I adored the performance of Joe Drury and in turn Callan Dobson, well done.
All the actors impressed me, as their singing voices were excellent and watching them in the peripheries, I could see that there was a great attention to detail in their characterisation. Marty Doyle as the salon Cashier was an ideal example of this.
To top off a cast of extremely talented actors, there was the addition of two dogs. Elle’s dog Bruiser and Paulette’s dog Rufus.
This show is a pink sensation, but also a lesson in how people can manipulate each other. We are reminded that being confident and honest is more important than any other superficial expectations. Its not just a love story, but a ‘coming of age’ story where Elle discovers her potential and the audience learns not to judge anyone by how they look.
Thank you, Tops on Stage for an entertaining and thought-provoking show.