Legally Competent

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Legally Blonde (the movie) seems like an obvious choice for a musical adaptation. It’s aimed at women but has crossover appeal and Elle Woods is so bubbly that bursting into song isn’t out of character. Legally Blonde (the musical), more than most adaptations, works right out of the gate with minimal tweaking. This is a blessing and a curse.

I’m tempted to link to the film’s IMDB page for a story summary, but let’s say if you’ve seen the film then the musical will present a minimum of surprises, plot-wise. But enough about the film, let’s talk about the show.

Obviously the first element of a musical that bears consideration is the songs. Legally Blonde isn’t Sondheim, but the score is poppy fun and the songs both support and advance the narrative, something that even accomplished book musicals struggle with. The only flabby moments are songs that specifically reference moments from the film but the tunes are catchy enough to compensate.

The script is serviceable, but it exists as a joining mechanism rather than augmenting the wit of the songs.

The specifics of the Melbourne production are where real criticisms surface. There are no real errors but it’s all very safe, even for a commercial show. The production numbers have just enough spectacle to get by, the sets and blocking are just enough to keep things where they need to be. The costumes are the sole standout in the staging, particularly Elle’s wardrobe.

The cast as a whole is solid, but Lucy Durack’s Elle seems miscast. Durack is a fine performer, but there is a depth to Elle Woods that Durack’s smiley ditz don’t reach. However, this seems to be a fault of direction rather than acting, and her voice is still top-notch.

Like the film, Legally Blonde is a mainstream show for a mainstream crowd. However, while the film was tight and original, the musical is safe and competent, a retread with songs. It’s a nice night out, but don’t expect much more than ‘nice.’

Legally Blonde The Musical is now showing at The Princes Theatre.
For more info and tickets visit legallyblonde.com.au.

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