Legally Blonde at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Based on the 2004 film of the same name, Legally Blonde is a colourful, lively and surreal story about love, law and not judging a book by its cover. Elle Woods (Courtney Bowman) thinks she’s on track to becoming the glamorous wife of a future senator, but when her boyfriend breaks up with her because she’s not “serious” enough, our blonde heroine trades her bright pink sunny life in California for the achromic classrooms of Harvard law school in a bid to win back her man.
Legally Blonde is absolutely oozing every shade of pink. From Elle and her sorority sisters’ dazzling outfits and heart-shaped sunglasses (Elle’s potential engagement dresses are displayed in a row from baby pink to fuchsia) to the stage floor (complete with a huge heart in the centre), the pink levels are cranked up to 2,000. Colour is used really effectively throughout the show: Elle’s positive, sunny life in California is visibly highlighted by the bright colours and contrasts sharply with the khaki, brown and subdued tones seen at Harvard law school. The protagonist’s friends are also characterised by their own signature colours – Brook (Lauren Drew) is displayed in a range of greens and Paulette (Nadine Higgin) is vibrantly orange – which helps them stand out as part of Elle’s world against a sea of sombre, “serious” people. It’s a lovely moment when Elle, who trades her signature colour to fit in at law school, bursts into the courtroom in the brightest pink shoes anyone has ever seen, and merges the two worlds into a flamboyant finale.
This version of Legally Blonde is more inclusive than the original, and it’s nice to see a modern adaption that pays homage to the story whilst also bringing it into the 2020s. Despite musicals not necessarily being known for the depth of their characters, here, it actually feels like one gets to know several of the personalities on a deeper level than in the movie. For example, the hilariously Celtic version of Ireland helps Paulette develop from a sidekick into a three-dimensional woman, helping viewers understand who she is.
Drew gives a memorable and exhaustingly energetic performance in Whipped into Shape, and Michael Ahomka-Lindsay (as Emmett) brings a grounded likability to his character, with chemistry with Bowman that feels genuine. The actors playing Bruiser and Rufus steal the show with their fantastic costumes (colour-coordinated with their owners), sideways glances at the audience and hysterically human behaviours (Bruiser is frequently found reading magazines). Eugene McCoy (Callahan) gives a powerful, suitably slimy performance and fully steps into his role.
Legally Blonde is a great evening for fans of the movie, and anyone who enjoys colour, catchy songs and stories about finding inner strength and confidence in a world where you don’t seem to fit.
Photo: Pamela Raith
Legally Blonde is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 13th May until 2nd July 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.