Brighton Theatre Group Youth opened with their latest production Legally Blonde at the Corn Exchange last night (June 8).
The production is quite magnificent, and manages to capture the charm of the absurd storyline while effectively making sure we don’t miss the point that this is a show about strong women.
Elle Woods, a blonde fashion student is dumped by her posh boyfriend Warner Huntington III, for a more ‘serious’ girlfriend when he goes to study law at Harvard.
Elle decides to become more ‘serious’ and gains entry to Harvard where she excels as a lawyer despite presenting as a dumb blonde bimbo, dressed in pink, complete with her little chihuahua.
The moral of the story is be who you are and Elle learns you are not defined by what you wear or how you talk, rather by how you are inside.
Elle, like all the other women characters in this show is strong and principled and the male characters play second fiddle to the ladies.
For a full synopsis of the show, click here:
This production ticked all the boxes and pressed all my buttons. I came away from the theatre not singing the tunes but feeling good that the underdog had come out so spectacularly on top. It gave me a real lift and I felt better about myself.
The star of this show is undoubtably Madison Horne who plays Elle Woods a fashion student and president of her hometown college sonority. Madison manages to combine the goofiness of the dumb blonde with the ‘serious’ requirements of her role as a successful attorney at law. I totally believed her as she strutted round the court room defending her client who was charged with murder. She was sexy and strong yet managed to remain vulnerable.
Her vocals and American accent were secure while the pathos in her voice ideally suited many of her numbers. Her connection with the audience was immediate and she did not lose them all night. Her performance was commanding.
However, I personally found the real stars of this show to be the company. They were well-drilled, their enthusiasm was infectious and it was wonderful to see the ‘Big Girls’ in the chorus having such a great time and really shining on the front lines of the chorus line. The ensemble dancing was seriously impressive and created many of the show highlights.
Jimmy Haggar played posh tottie and bad boy, Warner Huntington III. After a shakey start he relaxed and let his vocals do the talking. He has a great voice, a great look and a lovely bottom!
Elles’ love interest Ollie Wray played trainee attorney Emmett Forrest who eventually fills the love interest in Elle’s life, filling Warner’s boots with great style and panache. He has a lovely lyrical voice with a huge register especially powerful at the top of his range and he was more than a match for all his solo numbers. His connection with the audience was authentic and he played the underdog to perfection.
Beth Yeates was glorious as manicurist Paulette Bonafonte. A great singer and actress the stage lit up every time she was on it. Her casting in this role was perfect.
The court scene when the pool boy witness was exposed as being gay was sheer genius as the complete company in the courtroom sang “Is he gay or European?”
The gay stereotyping was handled really well and provided many funny moments during the evening. The actor playing the gay hairdresser in particular deserves some onions to go with his mince.
Michael Burnie’s direction was first class. Fast moving with the pastiche moments in particular working really well. He never lost my attention.
Jodie Michele’s choreography was as good as I have seen in an amateur production for a long time. It tested the company but they all really rose to the challenge.
The set deserves special mention. The Corn Exchange is not one of the easiest venues to stage anything in, never mind a musical on this scale. However, the mix of projections and set worked very well and despite the heat inside the Corn Exchange, at times I felt transported to both California and Harvard Law Campus in Cambridge Massachusetts. Quite an achievement!
Musical Director, Josh Winstone was spot on with his tempos and the band rose to the challenges presented by what is a complex musical score. They really caught the flavour of the arrangements.
It costs a fortune to stage these productions and Brighton Theatre Group Youth productions give young performers of the future a great showcase for their talents and deserve full support in their efforts.
There are still some tickets available. I can throughly recommend the show and maybe like myself you will leave at the end of the evening feeling uplifted and good about yourself.
To book tickets online, click here: