Entertainment

Bristol Hippodrome: Legally Blonde

The Interchange is proud to announce it’s working in partnership with Bristol Hippodrome. Andy Wynn reviewed Legally Blonde as the first of many shows we’re set to feature here on The Interchange:

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I headed out with my fiancé Ali last night to the opening night of Legally Blonde at Bristol Hippodrome. We visit Hippodrome usually two or three times a year but last night was different. I had to pay attention, I was there ‘on business’ to write The Interchange’s first review, the first of many, of a show at the Hippodrome.

Bristol is the second stop on the newest UK tour of Legally Blonde, which ends in Manchester next June.

I’ve not read the book, not really my kind of book, but I’ve seen the film and kind of enjoyed it in an easy watching kind of way. To be honest, I went along last night more in hope than expectation. How will they turn the film into a musical?

If you love the film, if it’s one of your all-time favourite films, then be aware that the stage show is different in a number of places. As I say, I’ve not read the book and so it may be true to the book, it doesn’t really matter. The story line and main plot points are still there however, the battle of Elle Woods to prove that she is serious enough for Warner Huntington III, before having her mind opened as the story nudges over half way.

We settled into the newly refurbished Hippodrome, packed as it was for this opening night, and we were off. As with the film, we found the opening 20 minutes or so a little slow. It’s more about setting up the premise of the rest of the show. During this period there were a couple of songs which, to me, seemed to have sound issues. An action packed piece from Elle’s sorority sisters and another from the local guys trying to distract our hero from her studies were both hard to pick out the words.

Groove

And then, well then… ohmygodyouguys it found it’s groove. What followed was an orgy of pink, a heavy sprinkling of campness and just wonderful fun. Catchy songs and energetic dance routines, intermingled with non-musical scenes that kept the story ticking along. Lucie Jones, X Factor finalist in 2009 and our very own Eurovision entry in Kiev earlier this year, was awesome in the role of Elle. Belting out tune after tune and dancing her way through the show.

Once settled in Harvard our Elle (as I’m going to call her now) found a backstreet beauty salon and a new best friend. Here we met Paulette Bonefonte, played by Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell from Eastenders). Fans of hers will know she can act, she won a slew of awards during her time in Albert Square. I tell you what though, my god she can sing.

Never work with children or animals they say, if you’ve seen the film though you’ll know that Bruiser Woods is almost a main character. Bruiser was there last night, in more of a cameo than a starring role, but there nonetheless. As was Rufus, Paulette’s dog. It was old Rufus that proved the old idiom. Rufus, you see jauntily wandered onto stage a few minutes ahead of his cue and during an impassioned speech from our Elle, causing Lucie to lose her thoughts in a fit of laughter and apology to the audience. We were with her by then though, on her side, rooting for her and so it was a minor blip that added to the fun, and prompted loud cheers and a curtsy from Lucie when she managed to finish her speech.

I’m waffling now, trying not to give away any spoilers, still smiling at the memories of last night.

Legally Blonde was saucier and more risqué than I expected, certainly more so than the film. I’m not sure it would be suitable for pre-teens.

Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod though, it was an uplifting camp fest of glitter balls, glow in the dark skipping ropes, roller-blading cupids in hot-pants, confetti and rainbow flags. Lucie will have felt very at home on stage here, a few short months after Eurovision.

Laughter

Our Monday evening consisted of laughter (I stopped counting at 10 laugh out loud moments), cheese (the song variety, not the dairy), an explosion of pink and ended with a standing ovation of cheers and laughter, during which somehow the entire cast managed a costume change for the finale. It was lovely to see the reaction of the cast, a great cast, who clearly enjoyed every minute of their performance and looked delighted as the audience rose to their feet cheering.

Cheering for almost all that is. Professor Callahan’s (Bill Ward, Charlie Stubbs from Coronation Street) early gravitas and stage presence as he crooned legal questions to his Harvard students had been long forgotten when he made a pass at our Elle, condemning him to boos as he took his bow, so much were the audience in the story and rooting for our Elle.

We thoroughly enjoyed Legally Blonde, unless you’re offended by sauce or think that the theatre should be all about serious drama and Shakespeare then you will too, you’ve got the rest of the week to head down to Bristol Hippodrome for an evening of pink.

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