Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Legally Blonde The Musical 2018 Tour Review Sunderland Empire Theatre

Legally Blonde The Musical Sunderland Review

Having seen Legally Blonde the Musical on no fewer than four previous occasions - three times in London's West End and once at the Sunderland Empire Theatre in 2011 - I was over the moon when a new tour was announced for 2017-2018 and it was heading back to the Sunderland Empire Theatre. I am a big fan of the show, based on the hit 2001 film starring Reece Witherspoon, and could happily watch it over and over again! The music is infectious and the book is funny and uplifting.

The role of Elle Woods in the musical was originated by the super talented Laura Bell Bundy and her adaption of the part is freely available on YouTube to watch at your leisure. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2007 to generally positive reviews and was nominated for seven Tony Awards. In late 2007 the show was broadcast on MTV and I'm not ashamed to say that ever since I saw that MTV recording I have been hooked! The show transferred to the West End in 2009 and played for 3 years and went on to win 3 Olivier awards.
Legally Blonde The Musical Review

This new tour of Legally Blonde the Musical stars 2009 X-Factor contestant and 2017 Eurovision Song Contest entrant Lucie Jones. Lucie has built quite a musicial theatre pedigree having performed in  Les Miserable, We Will Rock You and Rent amongst others. Also in the cast are EastEnders actress Rita Simmons as the lovable Paulette and Coronation Street actor Bill Ward as the cunning Professor CallaghanI had an open mind heading into the theatre. I had heard that the sets were not the best and that the production was a little 'clunky' however I had heard great things about Lucies vocal performance so I was excited to see the show.

Legally Blonde The Musical Cast
L-R Bill Ward, Rita Simmons, Lucie Jones
I took my mother and my 11 year old niece who is a new musical theatre convert after I took her to her very first musical (Hairspray) last year. Neither had seen the show previously so were a total 'clean slate'. I was interested to see what they thought of the show too!


Legally Blonde The Musical Sunderland Empire
The Curtain Prior to Showtime! 
The show has a few differences to the original Broadway and West End productions and to the 2011 UK tour but the differences are predominantly in the set pieces. It stands to reason that a touring set is going to be less sturdy and complex than a set in a static production and some of the staging was altered to take into account the different sets. This didn't take away from the enjoyment of the show and for first timers they will not have been noticeable.

Lucie did a great job in her portrayal of Elle and my mother commented that she definitely had some Reece Witherspoon mannerisms in her performance. Her voice was a delight to listen to and she put her heart and soul into every number. The part of Elle is an energetic and demanding one as she is in almost every scene but Lucie really rose to the challenge. I totally believed in her portrayal of Elle from start to finish.

I also really enjoyed David Barrett's portrayal of Emmett Forrest, he completely sold his character in every scene and his and Lucies performance of 'Take It Like A Man' was one of my favourites of the night. Special mention to Helen Petrovna as Brooke Wyndham and Laura Harrison as Vivienne Kensington who both blew me away with their amazing vocal ability.

Rita Simmons gave a convincing comedic performance as Paulette and her vocals were good, but for me, particularly during 'Ireland' she lacked the power and diction of others I have seen in the role. Bill Ward as Callaghan threw himself into his part but I did struggle to make out the lyrics during 'Blood in the Water' and I am familiar with the song. 
Legally Blonde The Musical Programme
The Programme
It was plain to see (and hear!) that the audience absolutely LOVED the show - judging by the standing ovation at the end of the night! Legally Blonde is one of my absolute favourite musicals and I really enjoyed this production. If you are debating whether or not to go and see it I would say YES! You will have a fun night full of great songs, comedy and you'll see some fabulous talent. My mother thought the show was fantastic and my niece now has a new favourite musical that has trumped Hairspray!

Let's hope it's not another 7 years before Legally Blonde is back in the North East!  

Legally Blonde the Musical is playing at Sunderland Empire Theatre until Saturday 21st April and then continues on tour until the end of June. Tickets are available from ATG Tickets HERE

Love Elle x 
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