Legally Blonde – the musical

‘Legally Blonde – The Musical’ is based on the novel by Amanda Brown. It is an amusing, bubbly story adapted for the stage by Heather Hach, after her seeing the success of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 2001 adored movie. Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin then added the music and lyrics of this award-winning musical. The musical premiered in San Francisco in 2007, and then on Broadway where it had 600 performances, grossing more than $1,000,000 a week on several occasions. It has received seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk nominations, then in the UK, it won three Laurence Olivier Awards, including ‘Best New Musical’ and in Australia, five Helpmanns.

Strangely, this fun-based show did not reach Sydney until a decade later in 2012, when it starred ‘Wicked’s Lucy Durack as Elle and Rob Mills as Warner.

This colourful and vibrant, two-and-a-half-hour production (20-minute interval) is a community partnership of the Stray Cats Theatre Company and the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. The season is only five shows long and sold out quickly. The performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7.30 until 1st October. There are matinées on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd at 2.00 pm. Recommended Age and Warnings: Age 11+ for mild adult themes.

The Scene:                           America in 2000.

The Set designers:            Bronwyn White and Karen Francis. The main scene is a balcony three metres up at the rear of the stage. It has a curved staircase on each side leading up to it. In the court scene are the judge’s bench and rows of chairs. The hairdressers have a complete set-up of hair dryers. Rollin units are used for changing rooms, but most notably for a tiled bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower unit – impressive.

Set Construction:             Mal Thompson, Bill Bargerbos, Tony Holding, Duncan Anderson and Ron Brown

Set painting:                      Bronwyn White, Michelle Thompson, Coral Hoffbeck, Lyn Tamplin, Sam Richards, Karen Jarvis, Tammie Pursell, Kylie Lever and Jodie Jacobs. This is Legally Blonde so naturally, there is an abundance of white and pink.

Head artist:        Bronwyn White

Props:                   Sheryl Gale

Lighting design:                 Nick Morant and Karen Francis

Lighting operator:            Particularly good, never missed a cue.

Spotlights:          Accurate. Followed well.

Sound design and operator:        Dylan Conroy. Good orchestra balancing to compliment the singers.

Microphones and headsets:        Bailey Bridgeman-Peters and Billy Roberts. Well programmed, and flawless, no breakups.

Fly mechanist:                   Jamie Murray

Production manager:     Kristie Corbishley with her team had the whole show bouncing along.

Stage managers:                Mary Castle and Karen Francis. Massive changes never took more than 5 seconds. Amazing

Assistant Stage Manager:            Billy Roberts

Backstage Manager:      Aidan Thomas assistants Hunter Perry and Karen Francis

Programme and posters photography and design Kristie Hennessy, aided by Danielle McLernon and Gemma Little

Dog carer and handler Mel Coleman – The highlights of a few scenes were the two small dogs, Bruiser (Lilly) and Rufus (Dexter) who seemed totally untroubled by the loud music from the pit, the dozens of dancers and the 1,000 people in the audience.

     Elle Woods (Lisa Taylor, even with the Boston accent and the squeaky talking voice, Lisa’s singing was devine) is a beautiful blonde, stunningly dressed and always in pink. She is the school’s Delta Nu sorority president. She is in love with Warner (Alex White, rich powerful voice), but he is in love with himself. He has his whole life laid out in his mind, eventually becoming a senior politician. Whilst dining with Warner, Elle who expecting an engagement ring is dumped for not being serious or intelligent enough. Devastated, but on the advice of her closest friends, Margot (Eibhlis Newman), Serena (Alyssa Murakami) and Pilar (Asha Perry) she goes to study at the prestigious Harvard Law School – where Warner is enrolled – in an attempt to win back his heart. Waving goodbye to her loving parents, Dad (Azza Gee) and Mum (Chantel Bell) she travels east with her friend Kate (Tannah Pridmore).

When Elle does none of her homework, Professor Callahan (Andy Vernie) bans her from his classes, favouring the arrogant, troublemaker Vivienne Kensington (Mia Passmore).

Elle hears of the fitness trainer and TV star, Brooke Wyndham (Rhiannon Garnham) who is in gaol accused of killing her husband; When Elle goes to offer free legal advice, she finds that prisoner Brooke is an old school friend.  So, with the help of her law tutor, daggy Emmett (Braeden Geuer) she decides to help Brooke.

To look more professional, Elle decides that the ‘dumb blonde’ looks and voice must go, so calls in to the hip hairstylist, Paulette (Alyssa Burton). Whilst in the hair salon, a gorgeous hunk of deliveryman, sex-bomb, Kyle the Magnificent (Dylan Randall – hilarious) arrives holding a parcel – on seeing this, Paulette fell in love!

      Elle, along with her gay friend, Enid Hoops (Stephanie Potter) gains an internship. She can now defend her friend Brooke. The court’s guard (Jarrad Cas Thomas) brings in the first witness for the prosecution, the Spanish pool boy, Nikos (Hunter Perry) followed by Brooke’s stepdaughter, Chutney Wyndham (Meg Willis). With the TV Reporter (Teaghan Lowry) anxiously waiting, the Judge (Kristie Corbishley) makes her decision.

     Will justice prevail, and who will marry whom?

Other cast members included: – Gaelen (Chloe Biares), Sundeep / Carlos (Bailey Bridgman-Peters), Leilani (Jordyn Gallop), Winthrop / Dewey (Aidan Thomas), Grand Master Chad (Jioji Nawanawa), and DA Joyce Riley / Perfume Girl (Charlotte Roberts)

Singing and dancing their hearts out were the fabulous chorus: Abigail Thomas, Aleesha Triglia, Alex Phillips, Amy Elliott, Annie Bala, Brad Ingham, Caitlin Wainwright, Ceri Willis, Chelsea Hobson, Chelsey Ward, Courtney Brown, Danielle Taylor, Emily Phillis-Vidler, Emily Tamplin, Gemma Lever, Georgia Brown, Holly Vandervaart, Jessica Luff, Jessika Gooch, Lachie Shalders, Maaya Morales, Mitchell Vickers, Morgan Randall, Sam Watts, Sheryl Gale, Sienna Gardyne, Sommer Hester, Stephanie Wainwright, Sydnee Hopkins, Tahnaya Minchin,

Musical Director, Vanitha Hart ensured powerful singing from each performer. Each effectively gives their best. A quick check of the back row can tell the truth – how many shows have the weaker performers tucked away? Everyone was belting out the words in harmony. Fabulous.

The orchestra was:          keyboard players 1 – Vanitha Hart, Keyboard 2 – Jay Anderson, Keyboard 3 – Shaun Davis, Violin – Bianca Vernie, Reeds 1 – Blake Faulkner, Reeds 2 – Talitha Dunn, Trumpet 1 – Matthew Knight, Trumpet 2 – Laura Halligan, Trombone – Daniel Kirk, Guitar – William Christensen, Bass – Leah Van Der Meulen, Drums – Thomas Selim, Percussion – Steven Hartley

This show bounced along, full of fun, colour, energy and style. Well-balanced instruments allowed every word of the songs to be heard.

Director Karen Francis and her team always aim high and invariably surpass it. Karen is loved for her ‘give everyone a chance’ attitude. For many people in this show, this was their first time on a major stage but they sang with vigour and completed the challenging dance routines with smiles. The dialogue had a cast with matching Boston accents.

It would not be a Stray Cats Production without the costumes, literally hundreds! The hard-worked costumières Linda Lowry, Kim Parker, Pat Francis and the cast came up with top-quality outfits, ranging from Cheerleaders in simple T-shirts and shorts, the prison’s regulation orange boilersuits, evening dresses, students in gowns and mortarboards, were all there. And yet more pink.

Head Choreographer, Caitlin Wainwright had several complex numbers with up to 60 dancers on stage at a time; so, with her assistant choreographers Lisa Taylor and Matthias Zver, the cast was perfectly rehearsed and with the whole ensemble smiling as they went through the challenging and advanced routines. At school if three or four children were skipping, within seconds one would trip or become tangled; here we had thirty prison inmates skipping flawlessly whilst singing ‘Whipped into Shape’ in tune and powerfully. Most impressive.

This musical was so much fun, it should be illegal! Another triumph for Stray Cats.