Legally Blonde was first a book by Amanda Brown, then a film (2001) and in 2007 it opened as a musical on Broadway. When it transferred to the West End in 2009, it was awarded the Olivier for the best musical. The Oxford Operatic Society has been invited to perform this musical, a great honour as the musical has only recently been opened up to amateur groups. In fact, this run at the New Theatre is the first in the south-east outside London.
The plot of Legally Blonde, if you don’t know it, is simple. A frilly-pink blonde girl follows her boyfriend to Harvard Law School and there she learns there is more to life than make-up and clothes. She breaks through the prejudices against her ‘blondness’ to become a fine lawyer (her knowledge of perms nevertheless coming in handy!). The plot does not bear close inspection: you need to suspend disbelief and go along with the sheer energy and fun of the show. There must be at least forty members of the cast dancing and singing their way through the evening and they really look as if they are enjoying themselves. Their characters are over-the-top, exuberant, exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek, occasionally outrageous – take the song 'Gay or European' for example. The whole cast deserves praise, but a couple of people deserve a special mention. Nicola Blake as Elle Woods carries all before her with huge aplomb; equally impressive is Katie Bedborough as Paulette the big-hearted hairdresser (and Phil Weller as her incredibly sexy boyfriend threatens to steal the show!). Nicola, like many others, came up through the ranks of MYCO (Musical Youth Company of Oxford) which is run by Guy Brigg and Julie Todd, the producers of this musical. The Oxford Operatic Society has been in existence for 69 years – there is a wealth of experience behind these performances. Another person who really deserves a mention is the choreographer. To get so many dancers to perform so effortlessly on that stage was a real feat – and a feast for the eyes.
If I was going to quibble, I would say that the set is a bit too complicated, with a few too many small scene changes. Nor will you go home humming any memorable tunes. But if this miserable May weather is getting you down, I thoroughly recommend that you go and see Legally Blonde: a light-hearted, funny, enjoyable evening is guaranteed. Get in quick – it’s only on this week.