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Legally Blonde The Musical

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

There is a moment mid-way through the second act of this UK touring revival of Laurence O'Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Heather Hach's musical adaptation of the hit 2001 film when the fun stops. Five minutes earlier, Anthony Williams' dazzling pink-hued production was a riot of frothy song and dance routines concerning the perils of Elle Woods, the cheer-leading sorority girl who ditches her air-head image to train as a Harvard lawyer after her preppy boyfriend dumps her. The next, just after plucky Elle saves the day, she's warding off unwanted advances from the high-flying legal eagle university professor who drafted her into his team of interns to tackle the case of the celebrity fitness instructor and her murdered husband.

Things have changed a bit since the show first conquered Broadway a decade ago. In the current climate, Elle's refusal to be man-handled in this way looks like a timely and necessary act of everyday defiance, with a reference to The Apprentice included. Other than the incident described above, Williams' production is delivered by a bright and breathless ensemble in a manner that looks to Educating Rita and Pygmalion as much as it set the tone for Glee and Scream Queens.

Musically, O'Keefe and Benjamin's melodies may plunder tweenage pop bubblegum, but lyrically the songs are as knowing as Hoch's book based on Amanda Brown's original novel. The faux-Riverdance routine may show its age, but the sisterly Greek chorus leading the Bend and Snap routine and a perfume called Sub-Text make up for it. Lucie Jones breezes through this as the perennially perky Elle with a comic skill matched by Rita Simons as hard-boiled hair-dresser Paulette in a feelgood tale of blonde ambition and millennial feminism in a peroxide-powered world.

The Herald, December 1st 2017



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