As the musical version of Legally Blonde opens to a huge response in the West End, even the country’s most serious theatre critics are having a hard time not getting swept away by the tongue-in-cheek fun.
In this high-camp musical take on the 2001 film that starred Reese Witherspoon, TV’s Sheridan Smith (who you might know best from the comedy shows Gavin and Stacey and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) dons the overwhelmingly pink garb to play the bubbly blonde Elle, who discovers her surprising talent as a lawyer. The musical opened this week at the Savoy theatre in London’s Strand area, and is already proving to be a huge hit with audiences. It won’t be too much of a surprise to learn that most of those screaming their adoration are women, but what’s even more impressive is that this adaptation of the bubbly film is warming the hearts of the critics too.
That’s right – Legally Blonde is officially a winner! It’s a great achievement for a show to appeal both to the masses and the ‘experts,’ with even the traditionally hard-nosed Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph saying “I tried, I really tried to hate this show, but resistance is futile,” and admitting that Legally Blonde is “light, fast, fun and frothy.” I’ll admit that even I had my doubts as to whether it would translate well to the stage, as I’m a big fan of the film, so it’s great to see it making waves.
It’s sure to be a real hit with die-hard musical fans and occasional dabblers alike: with hilarious characters, memorable sing-alongs and energetic dancing, it sounds as though it’s got the winning formula! Which makes me wonder why it wasn’t this well-received in New York – could it be that audiences in London just ‘get it’ more than our friends across the pond?
A stellar cast certainly helps, and Legally Blonde presents a great ensemble of British talent from across the entertainment industry – from Duncan James of boy-band Blue playing Elle’s boyfriend to one-time EastEnder Jill Halfpenny and former Doctor Who Peter Davison as Elle’s leering lecturer. Sheridan Smith’s leading role has been singled out for particular praise, with critics and audiences alike being won over by the sense of mischief she brings to the role.
With hits like Legally Blonde and the upcoming Love Never Dies (the sequel to the classic Phantom of the Opera) bringing even bigger audiences to the West End, it’s clear that 2010 is going to another great year to take theatre breaks in London!