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Legally Blonde (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Legally Blonde

Society: Cambridge Operatic Society

Venue: Cambridge Arts Theatre. 6 St. Edward’s Passage, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 3PJ

Credits: Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hach. Based on the novel (Legally Blonde) by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name.

Legally Blonde

4 stars

Rehearsal photo: Peter Buncombe Photography

This imaginative, very professional production is fine example of how to turn what is basically a pretty banal, uneven piece into vibrant entertainment.

The story of empty headed, fashion loving, sorority-obsessed Elle Woods (Kaitlin Berridge) and her journey through Harvard Law School is an obviously unlikely journey of discovery. Naturally she’s going to succeed as a lawyer against the odds and of course she will ultimately reject the man whom she chased to Harvard, once she recognises her own worth. Narrative surprises are thin on the ground.

Berridge is one of the best I’ve seen in this role. She starts in the expected frothy pink and appears shallow but develops real depth as the show proceeds. She is warm,  feisty and intelligent and effortlessly keeps the audience on side. Her singing is more than competent, is a strong naturalistic actor and no mean dancer. The opening scenes with her sorority (good to see so many accomplished young women in the cast) are arrestingly lively and her outrage, when the whole thing turns jarringly serious towards the end is powerful.

There is a lot of talent in the support cast too. Michael Broom delights as the very decent Emmett in contrast to the foul, authoritarian Professor Callahan. Andrew Ruddick makes the latter totally believable strutting about controlling everyone and then, revoltingly, making a pass at Elle. He is, in turn slick, funny and foul and it’s pretty compelling.

One of the better things about this show is the number of opportunities it provides for cameo roles. Rodger Lloyd, for instance, briefly steals the show as the absurdly sexy Kyle, a UPS man. Amelia Bass sings beautifully as Paulette, the hairdresser who befriends Elle.

Daisy Bates, moreover, is fabulous as Brooke, the fitness empire proprietor who is accused of murdering her husband. The astonishing skipping scene which she leads will stay with me for a long time – just one example of the splendid choreography built into this show by co-directors Helen Petrovna and David Barrett.

Much of the Legally Blonde music (by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin) is instantly forgettable and their lyrics are tediously repetitive. How many times do we hear “Omigod You Guys”? Much of it is lifted too. “Gay or European” is funny but only because it’s straight out of G&S. Nonetheless the band under Jennifer Edmonds does a rousing job with some attractive solo work.


 First published by Sardines:
Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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