On Wednesday night I made the trip out to the Lyric Theatre to see Legally Blonde: The Musical. Now, I loved the original Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon. I even liked the hilariously bad follow-up Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. But I wasn’t convinced it would work on stage – the story just doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for a musical makeover. Now that I’ve seen it, some of my misgivings have been confirmed.
I can understand the reasoning behind the show: take a well-received comedy from the past decade, add music, dance, and an expensive set, and you should have an easy success. But I feel like the show celebrates pop culture moments that have come and gone, like the song and dance celebration of the ‘bend and snap’. I also think that it would have been more enjoyable if I hadn’t seen and enjoyed the movie version of Legally Blonde, because then I wouldn’t have known all the jokes.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here is a quick outline: Elle Woods (played Lucy Durack) is a frivolous sorority girl madly in love with her boyfriend Warner (Robert ‘Millsy’ Mills). When he dumps her because he wants a more serious girlfriend, she follows him to Harvard Law School to win him back.
The first number (entitled “Ohmigod You Guys”) was unforgettable, and I mean that literally because it’s so catchy it’s been running non-stop in my mind all week. Less impressive songs include “Serious” and “Blood in the Water” sung by Millsy and Cameron Daddo (who plays Professor Callahan) respectively. I didn’t expect much from either of them, but they seem like decent singers, just not as good as the seasoned performers around them. Lucy Durack was amazing, easily my favourite performer of the night. Also she’s really pretty and I want the sparkly pink dress she wore during the curtain calls.
Other actors include David Harris (Emmett) and Erika Heynatz (Brooke Wyndham). But the biggest clap of the night went to the two dogs who ‘played’ Rufus and Bruiser. Those dogs were really well trained and adorable.
The show was very faithful to the original, probably to a fault, as some songs were merely extended versions of jokes from the film. The second act dragged on a bit, but it was enlivened by the best song of the night “There! Right There!”.
The whole show was incredibly high energy – the dancers were like ferrets high on red cordial, except with more energy. There were seamless transitions between scenes and the Lyric Theatre seems like an excellent venue for this type of big production. I could see and hear the show well from the dress circle.
The show was easily the most expensive performance I’ve ever seen, and I bought a preview ticket with a group discount. While it was a fun night out, I just don’t think it’s worth the cost given that it’s not an original show.
Legally Blonde will be playing at the Lyric Theatre until December 16th.
See legallyblonde.com.au for details.