Legally Blonde – Review – Hull New Theatre
By Rachel Howard, June 2018
As a regular theatre goer, most of the productions I go to see are national touring shows with professional actors, dancers and stage staff. So it made a refreshing change to head to Hull New Theatre this week for the opening night of Beverley Musical Theatre’s production of Legally Blonde.
The society recently gained the exclusive rights to Legally Blonde The Musical, sparking the interest of many young performers who are now embarking on a 5-night run at the theatre.
Legally Blonde, made famous by the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon, has successfully transferred from the big screen to the West End and beyond. It was a film that was crying out to be made into a musical, and it’s easy to see why BMT were so eager to hit the stage and tell the story of Elle Woods and her unexpected journey through law school.
“A champagne bubble of pink fluffiness”
For those who haven’t seen the film, the story follows Elle, a perky, uber-positive sorority girl from Malibu who, against the odds, tries to heal a broken heart by following her ex to Harvard law school. Elle is not your usual Harvard material – she lives in a champagne bubble of pink fluffiness, with her sorority sisters and pet Chihuahua, Bruiser, by her side. But appearances are not everything and she soon proves to be far more than just a pretty face.
Taking the lead role of Elle is the super-talented Zoe Kenington. Not only did she embody the character and personality of Elle, she knocked the socks off the audience with her singing voice, acting talent and command of the stage. Having turned professional in 2015, surely big things are just around the corner for this local girl – remember where you first heard her name!
Other standout performances included Paulette, played by Mandy Pearson – a full-time teacher with a stage presence that should be seen in many more productions; Emmett, played by Joshua Archibald – a 17-year-old performing arts student who portrayed the role of Elle’s right-hand man perfectly; and Callaghan, played by Richard Gorton, whose experience shone through from the moment he stepped on stage.
The cast as a whole presented this show beautifully, and special mention must be given to the crew who handled a large-scale production with ease. A couple of opening-night sound issues were, I’m sure, ironed out for further performances. The band performed a jam-packed programme of music – 19 numbers in all. In fact, there was very little acting that wasn’t put to music in some way – a real credit to the dedication and talent of the cast and crew.
As well as the BMT, a cast of a different type took to the stage, injecting some local flavour into the American story. The Robinettes, Hull KR’s very own cheerleaders, stormed the stage in such a professional manner that you could be forgiven for thinking they had just hopped across the pond from the latest NFL match. What followed was a polished performance that delivered power, quality and confidence – an excellent result given they are more used to high-kicking on an outdoor pitch and the cheers of passionate rugby fans.
So, do not be fooled by the fact this production has been brought to the stage by a local company. Local yes, but that doesn’t mean it is lacking in talent. Quite the contrary. It proves, if it ever needed to be, that Yorkshire’s Got Talent – oodles of it in fact.