‘Legally Blonde – The Musical’ is a joyful way to return to a much loved film

Legally Blonde is one of the most loved films of recent decades. The 2001 Reece Witherspoon hit followed the trials of fashion and beauty obsessed sorority girl Elle Woods, who is dumped by her boyfriend because he perceives her as not being the right material for his future career in law and politics.

This new production follows a number of locally produced shows which have filled the stage at Crown Theatre in recent times including We Will Rock You, The Boy From Oz, and the upcoming production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Like those shows, it’s a wonderful showcase of locally based talent who are given a chance to shine, and show that high quality entertainment does not need to be imported from interstate or overseas.

This production is created by well-known local talents Marina Del Basso and Hamish McSporran, who helm HAMA Productions, and cabaret and musical theatre performer John O’Hara is in the director’s chair.

Elaina O’Connor takes on the lead role of Elle Woods, Annie Aitken brilliantly plays hairdressing sidekick Paulette Buonufonte, Lloyd Hopkins is legal mentor Emmett Forrest, and Greg Jarema delivers a great performance as former boyfriend Warner Huttington.

Vincent Hooper, who has appeared in some impressive roles in the past including playing Rocky in the Rocky Horror Show, steals all his scenes as Kyle – the UPS Delivery guy, while there’s also great turns from Charlotte Louise as Vivienne, Tahlia Loren Gibbs as the Judge, Zowie Simpson as Brooke Wyndham and Georgia Rodgers as her step-daughter Chutney.

John O’Hara is pulling double-duty playing the role of Professor Callahan, but on opening night the role was filled by alternate Steve Simmons. There’s also stand out moments from Harry Boyle and Yoel Budianto who camped it up to the max for their time in the spotlight. We also spotted popular Tik-Tok star and The Voice -Australia alumni Sebastian Coe in the chorus, dancing his heart out.

The work is based on a novel by Amanda Brown, who took inspiration from her own experiences of being a law student in a prestigious law school. After it’s successful adaptation into a film, in 2007 the story was adapted into a Broadway musical.

It ran on Broadway for 595 performances and was considered a financial disappointment, it faired better though in the West End where British audiences flocked to see the production. In 2011 it won three Olivier Awards, including Best Musical.

The following year Australia got its first taste of the show with a production playing in Sydney and Melbourne. Lucy Durack signed on to play Elle Woods, with Rob Mills, Cameron Daddo and Erica Hynatz and Helen Dallimore in the cast.

Dumped by her boyfriend Werner, Elle Woods is determined to show him she’s got the smarts to be his wife, so she follows him to Harvard Law School. Once there she discovers, with the help of mentor Emmett, that if she applies herself she can understand the law, plus her knowledge of beauty and fashion is not completely wasted either.

Often when more recent films are translated into musicals the results can be less than enthralling. The stage versions of Dirty Dancing and Ghost stand-out as two examples of shows that don’t really bring the goods.

This musical however is stacked with great songs that you’ll find yourself singing along to by the second chorus. The music is written by husband and wife team Nell Benjamin and Lawrence O’Keefe – they later had success with the musical adaptation of the film Heathers. 

Opening number Omigod You Guys is quite the earworm, and there are hilarious numbers like Ireland, and Gay or European. One of the most anticipated moments of the show is the Bend and Snatch number and it didn’t disappoint.

Elaina O’Connor is sensational in the lead role, her vocals were powerful, her comic timing impeccable and her energy flowed across the audience.

Filled with eye catching dance numbers, a massive chorus, great casting and a mountain of enthusiasm – this show is a lot of fun.  Can’t wait to see their next production – The Little Mermaid is scheduled for later this year.

Legally Blonde is playing at the Crown Theatre until 25th April.  

Graeme Watson

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