Legally Blonde The Musical opened Thursday October 4 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney to huge applause, roaring laughter and a well-deserved full house standing ovation.
To state what is quite obvious to most, the musical is based on the hit ‘chick flick’ starring Reese Witherspoon also named ‘Legally Blonde’. It’s a simple storyline but a smart one with meaning nevertheless. It tells the tale of Delta Nu Sorority president, Elle Woods’ quest to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner by getting into Harvard law. As one would expect, things don’t exactly go to plan and she finds Warner has a new girlfriend, Vivienne and that Harvard isn’t like her old sorority days. With some help and inspiration from hairdresser Paulette and attorney, Emmett, Elle ends up defying expectations yet manages to stay true to herself in a world of ‘sharks’.
Okay I know what you’re thinking, you’ve either seen the movie and know it’s cheesy or you read that summary and are also thinking it sounds cheesy. It’s true. There are definitely parts of the musical that are cheesy, but there are far more moments of pure quality entertainment and fun. And really, what’s wrong with a little cheese? I challenge anyone to attend this show and not laugh along and have songs stuck in your head for days after (and not mind at all that they are there).
Attending opening night, I was foreign to neither film nor musical and let me just say up front our Australian cast more than lived up to expectations. Personally, I think as an Ensemble cast they outdid their Broadway counterparts as seen on MTV.
The lead role, Elle, stars Lucy Durack who most Australian theatre fans know as Glinda from Wicked. The role of Elle was described by co-star Cameron Daddo in a recent interview as “the Hamlet of musical theatre” and what an apt description this is. Elle is onstage nearly the entire show and is a high energy and demanding role. It’s a tough role but Lucy nails it. Her comedic timing is incredible and every note hit to perfection. A key element of the show’s success is her on-stage rapport with Rob Mills (Warner) and David Harris (Emmett) who also both starred alongside her in Wicked.
David Harris must be commended for his outstanding performance as the heart-warming ‘underdog’ nice guy, Emmett, a character who I’m sure win’s the hearts of many in the audience every night.
Cameron Daddo was the perfect choice for the role of Professor Callahan, the ruthless villain of the show. His acting proficiency is well known to most but his vocal ability was one of the pleasant surprises of the show. His comedic timing in the audience favourite number ‘there, right, there’ also known as “is he gay or European?” was a real standout.
The real highlight of the show for me came out of the supporting roles, Paulette the hairdresser (Helen Dallimore) and Brooke the exercise queen (Erika Heynatz).
Helen Dallimore is no stranger to the stage having starred in numerous shows both here and abroad, perhaps most notably in Wicked on the West End alongside Tony Award winner Idina Menzel. When Dallimore is on stage, she commands attention and everything is timed to perfection. Most of the big laughs come from her portrayal of the very quirky character and her encounters with UPS delivery man Kyle (the very talented Mike Snell).