Legally Blonde the Musical
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Omigod you guys, fashion merchandising major Elle Woods and her college sweetheart Warner Huntington III had the perfect relationship until Warner heads to Harvard Law School and decides that he needs a more 'serious' kind of girlfriend. Dumped, Elle embarks on a drastic plan to win him back.
This version of Legally Blonde is exceptionally well adapted for an Open Air Theatre, and the modern and Gen Z audience without compromising the sheer energy, humour, and positivity that radiate from the story. The show will leave the audience feeling upbeat and humming to the catchy songs for days.
This production is faithful to the original Musical first debuted on Broadway in 2007 and the West End in 2009, but obvious changes have been made to reflect the shift toward the use of mobile technologies. Similarly, some of the dialogues and lyrics have also been updated to ensure that these are more politically correct. However, I’m not sure that there is a need to change Enid from a lesbian to a feminist and the significant modification to the lyrics in “Ireland”. Nonetheless, despite that some of these changes are questionable, it remains an exceptionally enjoyable show.
One cannot watch this version of the show without commenting on the diversity of the cast, both in terms of ethnicity and gender. Here, the role of Elle Woods is played by Courtney Bowman, who identifies as Afro-European. The Greek Chorus, which featured only female actors originally, also features non-binary actors in this version. Given the ethnic, cultural, and diversity of our society in this day and age, some fantastic choices have been made to represent these groups on stage.
With the exception of “Ireland” and the occasional lyrics, most of the stand out musical numbers including “Omigod You Guys”, “Whipped Into Shape”, and “Gay Or European” are identical to the original. “Whipped Into Shape” deserves a special mention, singing while skipping rope at that speed is incredibly difficult and I have nothing but admiration for Lauren Drew doing this multiple shows a week. Perhaps due to the overwhelming energy from almost all of the musical numbers, the slower and perhaps duller numbers such as “Blood in the Water” felt particularly flat and unfortunately, most of these are associated with Callahan. Eugene McCoy, who played the role of Callahan, is noticeable younger than previous actors in this role. While this should absolutely not lessen the effect of his inappropriate conduct on Elle, perhaps because the age gap between the actors was less apparent, the impact was somewhat diminished.
The stage design and lightings were both relatively simple for the Open Air Theatre, and the restaurant breakup scene between Elle and Warner was adapted into a picnic, appropriate for the stage. However, there were some questionable choices on the costume and the animal companions. First, the colour palette was either pink or dull green on a pink stage. I appreciate pink is Elle’s signature colour, but a more diverse colour preference of the sorority could further portray individuality of the characters and the diversity of our society. I’m not an advocate for using real animals on stage, but the portrayal of bruiser and Rufus in this stage adaptation should be questioned and whether there are other ways around it. While the Bruiser's sassy character had some charms toward the start of Act 1, this quickly faded and I found myself cringe at his subsequent appearances.
This version of Legally Blonde is delightful and well adapted for the environment in which it was performed in. The story suffers from some obvious issues, such as the dated storyline that anybody who is not physically attracted to a good-looking woman must be gay. Despite this, now more than ever, the story and inclusivity of the cast give a clear and timeless message that you can be anything you want if you put your mind to it!