Frothy, frivolous fun as blonde ‘bimbo’ conquers Harvard law

LEGALLY BLONDE,             ,     Director - Jerry Mitchell, Costume Designer - Gregg Barnes, Scenic Designer - David Rockwell, Lighting - Paul Miller, Liverpool, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/
LEGALLY BLONDE, , Director - Jerry Mitchell, Costume Designer - Gregg Barnes, Scenic Designer - David Rockwell, Lighting - Paul Miller, Liverpool, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

IT’S pink, relentlessly girly, camp, brash and utterly catchy.

Based around the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde is full of sorority girls in near-hysteria over dresses, shoes and break-ups, with a buff UPS delivery guy in very tight shorts, spectacular choreography, and songs - composed by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin - that are the most stubborn of ear worms.

Malibu blonde Elle Woods, a pretty fashionista type here played perfectly by Faye Brookes, decides to head to Harvard to study law in order to win back the heart of her ex, Warner Huntington (a confident and smooth Ray Quinn).

It’s a hilarious culture clash of Vogue-reading girly logic and stuffy academia, with Elle being dismissed by most of her Ivy League peers at first glance; her pink lace-up boots, garish lipstick and pink-clad chihuahua are just too frivolous for the serious lecture halls of Harvard law.

All is frothy and buoyant as the action moves through one impeccably choreographed scene after another - an uplifting ‘Greek chorus’ of cheerleaders accompanying the heroine through her multifarious woes with such snappy numbers as Omigod You Guys, Bend and Snap and the unexpectedly big production number ‘Is he gay or European?’ (to be fair he seems both).

Les Dawson makes a commendable appearance as Professor Callahan and there are strong vocals and wildly energetic dancing from the entire cast.

Elle finds a legal ability she didn’t know she possessed, comes to the aid of a love-lorn manicurist and decides she deserves better than Warner, while falling into the arms of friend-turned-knight-in-shining-armor Emmett (Stephen Ashfield). She finally convinces people to see beyond her blonde airhead image.

And it all ends with much razzmatazz, humour and, naturally, even more singing, dancing and swathes of pink and sequins.

The giddy, uptempo action of this musical is hugely entertaining and infectious (I confess I was - forgive me ye arbiters of cool, ye gods of cynical detachment! - singing ‘Omigod You Guys / No one should be left alone to dress and accessorise’ all the way home).

This is feel-good, full-on bubblegum entertainment that is aware of its ridiculousness and unabashedly revels in it.

Well up there with Mamma Mia! or Hairspray - and perhaps better.

Legally Blonde runs at the Grand Opera House, Belfast until May 5. To book tickets visit www.goh.co.uk or call the box office on 02890 241919.

JOANNE SAVAGE