Reviews Theatre

REVIEW: WAAPA’s Legally Blonde

Review By: Sarah Ison

Even if you have read the book, seen the movie or already witnessed the musical on stage, WAAPA’s production of Legally Blonde The Musical cannot be missed, no matter if you’re one of its die-hard fans, or a complete newbie to the entire hot pink affair.

Directed by Jason Langley, this show features a youthful cast of second and third year students from The West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), who blew the roof off at opening night last Saturday, with a level of talent that can only be described as exceptional.

It was incredibly satisfying to have the opportunity to see university students playing the part of university students in this production, lending much greater legitimacy to their roles than if they had been portrayed by actors already long out of school, as is frequently the case. At the same time, the entire cast and crew upheld the greatest level of professionalism throughout the performance, with enough vigor and talent to rival any other production of this much loved musical.

The show follows the story of Elle Woods, (Kate Thomas), a young, pampered, Malibu fashionista, who manages to work her way into Harvard Law school in pursuit of the man she loves, who is looking for someone more ‘serious’. This basic and slightly ludicrous premise culminates to one of the most loved musicals today, and Saturday night’s performance undoubtedly did it justice.

The opening number ‘Omigod You Guys’ started the performance off with a bang, or rather a compilation of high pitched screeching and yelling, that invariably set the tone for the rest of the show. It would be a night of sorority girls, fashion and of course, pink. Lots and lots of pink. But just like our protagonist, the show was more than just a pretty face. The choreography alone was spectacular, and left barely any room to blink without missing something. The ‘Bend and Snap’ number was especially impressive, with dynamic and inventive choreography that retained an incomparably level of energy. This high intensity and snappy pace was felt throughout the entire performance, with only a handful of noticeable dips in energy at all. I almost considered following Elle’s lead and slamming back a red bull or two before the second act so I could keep up with the non-stop bundle of screeching, clicking, dancing, flipping, bending and snapping that seemed to only snowball as the show went on.

When I initially walked into the Regal Theatre, I found myself slightly surprised and a little underwhelmed by the set that met my eyes. It was little more than a ‘Delta Nu’ sign hung above a large painted door. I had been expecting Greek styled columns and pillars, pink trimming on multiple doors and windows, and even a couple of palm trees to accent this Californian sorority house. However, within minutes, this set was lifted to reveal the colourful interior and of course the grand staircase of the Delta Nu house. This began what was an array of elaborate set changes I couldn’t have predicted. The stage changed from sorority house to moonlit restaurant, with real violinists serenading our protagonists. Then there was Harvard Law School and its classrooms, Elle’s dorm, a trendy hair salon, a jail and a courtroom, all of which were large and elaborate sets, with entire backdrops falling and being drawn back up again. The enormous projector on the back wall of the stage lent itself nicely to a variety of scenes, though it was a shame when it encountered noticeable technical difficulties during the first scene of act two, an instance in which it was unfortunately pivotal. However, along with half a dozen or so sound difficulties, these were the only points at which I could fault the entire show, making it a fantastic effort for opening night.

Legally Blonde the Musical encounters a tremendously successful revival in this WAAPA performance, with added quirks to make the show their own. The entire production oozes exuberance and energy, making audiences clap, laugh and come out of the performance unable to say little else but ‘Omigod’.

The show runs until June 20th, with tickets selling fast.
You can find more details at Waapa’s website