Legally Blonde, The Musical is the epitome of the feel-good stage spectacular. This gem of a production has everything – a fantastic script, excellent cast, great music and seamless technical stagecraft – all carried off with delightful energy and fun. And on a quiet Tuesday night well into its Melbourne season, this is all the more impressive.
It’s always exciting to see familiar faces on stage, especially for fans of Australian reality TV who remember Millsy from Australian Idol, and more recently, I Will Survive winner Mike Snell. Seeing them romping around on stage was delightful, though I have to say, Mike took the cake. His joy and enthusiasm came across in each of his characters, from the Evil-Ex to the UPS guy – and in those shorts, he can do no wrong. And while Mills can’t act to save himself, he gives it a red-hot go, and gets away with it through his sheer consistent enthusiasm and endless likeableness (even though he’s playing the jerk).
Two of the biggest highlights (in a show chock-full of them) were Lucy Durack and David Harris. While I loved them in Wicked, they’re even better in Legally Blonde the Musical. Durack was instantly recognisable – who could forget that voice? – however, , Harris has transformed himself into the under-dog, again proving his remarkable talent for characterisation. With a daggy suit and longish hair, Harris recreates the sweet and reliable Emmett, making him such a relatable, honest hero – even more so than the movie. He does the nice guy just so damn well, almost flying under the radar – but no, impossible. He is, instead, the perfect support to Durack, as is his character to Elle. Harris and Durack have a beautiful on-stage connection, a trust and comfort that makes their romance, ahhh, just wonderful.
Durack’s interpretation of Elle Woods is disarming and believable. Alongside the ensemble, Durack doesn’t look like a dancer. She keeps up, but doesn’t have the bounce and pop the other girls do, and she often struggles with her heels. But this just makes her all the more adorable! Her character is about aspiring and growing, and it’s natural that she doesn’t quite get there sometimes: static makes her skirt ride up, she momentarily loses her balance in a dance sequence, and hat hair happens – but she keeps at it, and in the end she achieves a wonderful dream. Durack’s Elle beautifully matches the show’s undercurrent of self-effacing humour – everyone knows they’re hamming it up, and they pull it off with delicious conviction.
And I have to mention Erika Heynatz, who opens the second half with her amazing high energy and revoltingly great voice. This woman goes far beyond being a triple threat, and she has now added musical theatre to her incredible history of performance. If there weren’t so many reasons to see the show, I’d see it just for her.
The genius of this script is that people who love the movie will love how the story and characters remain true to it, while adding completely new material. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll enjoy the musical just as much, if not more. Nothing is given away at the start, and having now seen both, I’d go the musical first.
I actually didn’t want to love it, and I didn’t expect to love it, but I couldn’t help myself. I was totally engrossed, the whole way through. And don’t even start me on the dogs! Adorable!