Legally Blonde – October 15th 2011 (eve)

20 Oct

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Legally Blonde. I used to go a lot during the first year of the show as I just loved the cast and really enjoyed the show. And I still think it’s a great musical with a catchy score and some very clever lyrics. But me being me I tend to watch shows more when I know someone in the cast and that just wasn’t the case anymore after the first cast change back in October 2010.

I have seen the last cast a few times though (although I completely missed out on Lee Mead’s Emmett) and thought they were a good bunch of performers. I was never keen on Denise van Outen’s Paulette and I missed quite a few past cast members but all in all I’ve always liked the show and the cast.

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So, the first Saturday after the latest cast change marked my return visit to Legally Blonde after several months. Thanks to a friend I ended up in the front row for a tenner – you can’t go wrong with that! And this brings us to the show – or better – the cast:

First of all there’s Carley Stenson as Elle. Having seen Sherdian, Amy and Susan on previous visits I’m afraid to say I didn’t enjoy her performance that much. She is no bad Elle, don’t get me wrong! But for me she lacks that certain sparkle and I didn’t feel for her Elle straight away (as I did when I saw Sheridan, Susan and Amy). Maybe I just need to see her a few times though so I reserve my final judgement for some other time.

Stephen Ashfield has taken over as Emmett. He was my main reason for going to see the show again that soon after cast change. I’ve loved Stephen’s Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys and have been lucky enough to see him on stage in his own Cabaret show at Lauderdale House, in Bewitched, bothered and bewildered at Jermyn Street Theatre and at the Summer with the composers Cabaret on the Battersea Barge. And of course there was no way I would not go and see him as Emmett in Legally Blonde. And although he’s only been in the show for a very short time he has already made Emmett his own. I absolutely loved „Chip on my shoulder“ – he even hits the high note at the end! Stephen’s Emmett really is beyond adorable (and quite cheeky at times). Definitely the highlight in this cast for me and more than enough reason to go back and watch the show again.

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Natalie Casey as Paulette – I don’t know how to put it without sounding incredibly rude. I’m sure Natalie is a lovely person but I’m sorry to say I hate her Paulette. She has made the character into a complete idiot, a comic figur without heart. It’s a shame as Paulette is supposed to be funny but I doubt she’s supposed to come across as being stoned and completely stupid all the time. So thank you but no, thank you.

Peter Davison has been with the show since it started. And he’s still doing a great job as Professor Callahan.

Ben Freeman ist the new Warner. The part itself is rather bland I think. However Warner should at least have a certain ammount of charisma. Unfortunately that is exactly what Ben lacks. His voice is ok but nothing special and his acting is rather wooden (even more wooden than the character himself). Hopefully he will settle into the part with time. Considering there were special circumstances (his wife went into labour) I can imagine his mind must have been elsewhere so I’ll just wait and see if I enjoy his performance more next time.

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Jane McMurtrie was on for Brooke and I have to say I prefer her to Tamara Wall who I have seen a few times already. I really have no idea how Jane manages to handle her job in Legally Blonde – Dance Captain and definitely Miss Super Swing, sometimes covering 2 or 3 tracks during a show. No matter in what part I’ve seen her she has always stood out for me – and I mean in a good way! I guess it’s her energy which seems to know no limits. I can hardly watch anyone else whenever she’s on stage. So, hopefully this hasn’t been the last time I’ve seen her as Brooke, a part which she played brilliantly (special kudos for „Whipped into shape“ which was such a joy to watch).

Tricia Adele-Turner did a good job as Vivienne but out of the 4 girls I have now seen in the part she is so far my least favourite. Her voice seemed a bit weak and I don’t think her and Ben have as much stage chemistry as previous Warner and Vivienne combos. And someone needs to sort out her make-up – it didn’t look natural at all.

Ellie Kirk, Lucy Miller and Abiona Omonua are Margot, Serena and Pilar (Elle’s best friends). Lucy used to be a swing in the show and she has always been my favourite Serena so I’m more than happy she’s taken over the part full time now. I really liked Ellie’s Margot and thought Abiona’s Pilar was ok but she still needs to settle down a bit.

Gemma Sutton is fantastic as Enid. So funny! I didn’t think Suzie McLean could be replaced but Gemma is just brilliant.

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The one and only Chris Ellis-Stanton is still playing Kyle and to be honest I couldn’t imagine someone else in the role full time. I’ve seen understudies and while none of them was bad they just weren’t Chris either. The man just fits the role perfectly.

Out of the ensemble I’d like to give a special shout out to Jon Tsouras who is playing Nikos now. I’ve seen Jon in several shows and always thought he was a really talented performer. It’s great to see him in a part that allows him to show of his comic talent. His Nikos was hilarious to watch. I loved it!

Nick Hayes as Pforzheimer was beyond funny but very camp – whilst that did make me laugh I’m not sure it really suits the character.

I love Lincoln Stone’s portrayal of Elle’s dad and it’s good to see Sorelle Marsh his still in the cast as that means I may have the chance to see her Paulette again.

So, all in all I enjoyed the show and will definitely be back. If only they would still have Jill Halfpenny as Paulette and Simon Thomas as Warner – but hey, I’m not complaining as long as I get to see Stephen’s Emmett.

Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre, for more infos and to book tickets go to http://www.legallyblondethemusical.co.uk

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