On Friday 15th and Saturday 16th February, the Swansea University’s Performing Arts societies came together to put on a collaborative performance of the Broadway hit Legally Blonde, starring Summer Jones-Webster as Elle Woods.
Based on the novel by Heather Hach and the 2001 film of the same name, Legally Blonde premiered in San Francisco in 2007 and has proved to be a smash hit ever since. The musical tells the story of pretty-in-pink sorority sister Elle Woods, who has her heart broken by the man she thought she was going to marry, Warner Huntington III, when he decides to dump her in favour of a career as a lawyer. Elle decides not to give up on love just yet, and follows him to Harvard Law School. Determined to prove Warner that blondes aren’t just more fun, Elle studies hard to become one of the top students in her class, securing a spot as an intern for their professor and esteemed lawyer, Callahan. Throw a supportive hairdresser, a second love interest and a pink bunny outfit into the mix, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a story – and that’s before the introduction of the dramatic court case which Elle and her friends find themselves caught up in. Paired with upbeat music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, it’s no wonder why Legally Blonde has become so popular to the modern-day audience. The Performing Arts societies had definitely set themselves a challenge.
The show opened with a burst of music from the pit band and a chorus of energetic voices from the Delta Nu girls, who went all out with their American accents and exciting choreography. Elle’s quick change into her signature hot pink was also impressive, and the energy on stage was palpable. ‘Ohmigod You Guys’ ended with the comic introduction of heart-throb Warner, played by Bob Tharme, before the second song started. ‘Serious’ by name but not-so-serious by nature, the two leads managed to stay perfectly in character whilst putting on a great performance of this song. Tharme and Jones-Webster’s voices worked beautifully together.
The introduction of Paulette (Emma Price), Emmett (Cameron Goodman) and Callahan (Mike Brown) really got the ball rolling. All three actors had extremely impressive voices, with ‘Blood on the Water’ creating an extremely intense moment on stage, backed by fabulous music from the pit band, and ‘Chip on my Shoulder’ allowing Emmett to steal the heart of everyone in the audience. This song was particularly impressive, with the use of the chorus to show the progression of time as Emmett helped Elle study to become one of the top in her class.
The first act ended with a bang before the interval, with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm not only from the leading roles, but from the entire cast. Bravo! ‘Whipped into Shape’ was a brilliantly dynamic introduction to both the second act and the character of wrongfully accused Brooke Wyndham, played by Dani Fisher. did a really good job of this difficult solo, paired with very energetic choreography that would leave some people gasping for breath. Very well done.
The next number was the one that everyone knew and had been waiting for. ‘Bend and Snap’ didn’t fail to please, with comic value but also powerful vocals, especially in the cadenza from Emma Price. The scene was a brilliant way to introduce Kyle, and had everyone cheering for Paulette. This song was closely followed by ‘There! Right There!’, which had everyone laughing as the group tried to work out whether Wyndham’s pool boy was gay or just European. It was a huge hit with the audience; a massive victory both in the courtroom and on the stage.
The show calmed down for a moment with the perfect combination of heartbreak and hope in ‘Legally Blonde’, before girl power won again with Vivian, played by Sophie George, decided to team up with Elle to stick it to the man. Back in her pink dress, and this time with Vivian on her side, Elle took to the courtroom once more for one final victory.
She show ended with a last hurrah filled with energy, glitter and sparkly pink boots, and received a standing ovation from the audience. Throughout the performance, the effective use of props and costumes really helped to bring the world of the Delta Nus to life. Despite a few microphone difficulties, the cast really owned the stage. The appropriately pink lighting and consistently wonderful music from the pit band also added to the drama and energy of the performance. Finally, I’d personally like to offer a huge congratulations to the entire cast and crew for putting on such a brilliant performance, and can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us!
By Caitlin Jones