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REVIEW: Legally Blonde (LWMS, Royal Spa Centre)

10 years ago, the team of Nell Benjamin, Laurence O’Keefe and Heather Hach collaborated together to adapt the 2001 film, Legally Blonde into an all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza. Having enjoyed extended time on Broadway and the West End, the show is now doing the rounds in the amateur circuit. However, LWMS’s production of this brilliant show was far from amateur. The vast stage at the Royal Spa Centre was filled with an exuberant cast, in a performance packed full of vibrancy, energy and colour. The complex score was handled exceptionally well by the incredibly talented band, under the direction of Matt Flint and the overall production was slick and pacy. There was a brilliant supporting cast, including great cameos from Lucy Maxwell (Enid Hoopes), Katy Traynar (Kate) and Ash Spall (Kyle), with the comic trio of Frankie Smith (Margot), Faye Lindsay (Serena) and Rebecca Shaw (Pilar) leading the Greek Chorus with some impressive harmonies. Phil Spencer was particularly skin-crawling as Professor Callahan, Ashley Clifford was in good voice as the suave and smarmy Warner Huntington III and Sam Henshaw made for an endearingly charming Emmett Forrest. Hannah Hampson (Brooke Wyndham) led perhaps one of the most choreographically demanding numbers of the night, as the company skipped their hearts out to Whipped into Shape. Executed superbly well, it not only showcased the group’s ability, it really highlighted the talents of choreographer Aaron Gibson. There were stand-out performances from Vicky Holding as Vivienne Kensington, whose stunning vocals in Legally Blonde really soared and Joanne Cheung was a sheer delight as Paulette Bonafonte, delivering a fantastic rendition of Ireland. However, Nikki Claire Cross was the shining star of this production, leading from the front, she is a force to be reckoned with. A triple threat of singing, acting and dancing talent, she nailed the role of Elle Woods, whilst also bringing her own quirks to the character. Having seen the show over 10 times, it was a breath of fresh air to not see a carbon copy of any other performer, she firmly put her own mark on this part and it was a joy to watch. Director, Stephen Duckham has put together a cracker of a show, which not only showcases individuals, but also the entire ensemble. What You Want, So Much Better and Gay or Europeanparticularly highlighted this and the group certainly deserve all the praise they have received. A positively wonderful show.

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