Legally Blonde was seriously fun!
Produced to a professional level, the 40 members of the on-stage cast were supported by 58 of their peers off-stage: a considerable proportion of the School. The effervescent joy they brought to the penultimate week of term was incredible. The crowd was fizzing with excitement and greeted each new show-stopper with warm approval.
For those who don’t know, the plot tells the story of Elle Woods, who doesn’t take rejection from her preppy boyfriend lying down: he wants a career wife who will enable his rise up the political ladder and somehow the lead sorority girl of Delta Nu doesn’t cut the mustard. She’s not serious enough. Hey presto: a song and dance routine convinces Harvard professors that Harvard Law School is the place for her. And Elle’s smart and savvy (if unorthodox) ability to see to the heart of a murder case means triumph and the man of her choice by the end. There’s a sub-plot involving the Irish owner of the hair and nails salon where Elle goes to look her best on days when she is in court. Plus there are two dogs (professionals, with serious theatre CVs in the programme) who surely represent the long arm of the paw!
The sheer chutzpah of pulling off the number of costume changes and technical calls the show requires was smoothly carried by everyone. Bravura work came from Millie Felix in the lead as Elle Woods whose physical comedy (and fifteen costume changes) was every bit as good as her beautiful, richly toned singing. The standard she set was gamely matched by the ‘Chorus’ who gave their all in singing and dancing: at one point hitting out a tune while engaged in a seriously athletic work-out routine involving skipping ropes, then switching to Irish jigging at the drop of a hat.
Seb O’Grady as Emmett Forest grew in stature across the evening to deliver a stunning duet with Millie, their voices blending powerfully. He also managed a crazy costume change on stage during a teasing routine at a department store. Similarly outstanding in the singing stakes was Georgina Dalby as Paulette Bonafonté, the Irish character whose down-to-earth presence in knee-high green boots acted as a foil to Elle’s over-the-top dress sense.
Annie Smith impressed as Brooke Wyndham, the fitness guru accused of murder (but whose alibi revolves around the sorry secret she was off having liposuction at the time of the killing): jumping on and off tables while dancing and singing isn’t easy – Annie made it look like she does it for a living. The amazing vitality of the show was shown in the performance of the leads who clearly were unlocked to bring fresh gestures and actions and take risks live in the moment.
The whole company was excellent, making the show frothier than a cappuccino; everyone played their part in ‘whipping it in to shape’! The band in the pit were a miracle of balanced sound – not easy in a school show. There were show-stealing cameos which presented a range of hilariously escalating stereotypes, and the crowd’s favourites were rightly David Ogundare’s UPS delivery man, Kyle B O’Boyle, with the unfeasibly large ‘package’ (these packages wittily came in all shapes and sizes), and Blair Morton’s high camp supposedly straight pool boy, Nikos Argitakos. David’s body became more and more an object of obvious display with each entry, and Blair’s voice rose higher and higher, his body bendier and bendier, his behaviour more and more audience-baiting all building up to his revelatory moment in the courtroom.
Blair and Ed Burkitt made for a smashing Greek couple. Frankie Banks, Flora White, and Jessica Stamp were a super Greek Chorus. Henry Tear was unpleasantly preppy (in a good way) as Warner Huntington III. Felix Badcock dominated the stage as Professor Callahan looking for ‘blood in the water’. His shark-like tendencies earned him a cheek-smacking come-uppance of quite bone-cracking delivery: let’s hope that was a stage hit! Celeste Primrose was spot on with the snark of her character, Vivienne Kensington. We also had some gritty rap from Ollie Jones who rode his lines as Grand Master Chad.
Given the range of drama and the spread of styles the School has produced last year and this – from The Crucible to Of Mice and Men and Not What I Am (not to mention House plays) – huge congratulations must go to the Drama Department for the strength in depth on show. A wonderful thing to see in Legally Blonde was all the company, from Fourth Formers to Upper Sixth Formers, owning the stage in one big happy group.
The audience left the theatre bouncing down the road giddy with delight: more!