The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland deliver a high-octane production of the preppy musical Legally Blonde, based on the 2001 film with the same. The choreography is tight, the roles are superbly cast and the set is overwhelmingly pink. Although the stakes in this show may be low, the level of fun is consistently high.
Elle is not your everyday woman, yet her story of going to extraordinary lengths to win her love back has become a cult favourite. When she is dumped by Warner Huntington III and successfully enrols at Harvard Law School to chase him, she quickly realises that being rich and blonde doesn’t mean that she can have it all. But through perseverance and staying true to herself, she learns that she’s capable of so much more than she ever expected.
Vanessa Campbell gives an outstanding leading lady performance as Elle Woods demonstrating vocal prowess and stamina. Eloise Runnette as the Irish-obsessed hairdresser Paulette is also exceptional. Her rousing rendition of ‘Ireland’ accompanied by an emotive ballet sequence is a standout moment in the musical. Of the strong ensemble cast, a special mention must go to Pablo Lara-Garcia who wins the award for most re-appearances in minor parts. A special mention must also go to Jocelyn LoSole who absolutely pulls focus at the end of title song ‘Legally Blonde’ with an incredible belt.
The chunky laptops and the classic stereo on stage reminds us that Legally Blonde is set in the 2000s. But the show also reveals its age in other minor troubling ways. Initially it is suggested that Elle Woods should be admitted to Harvard for reasons of multiculturalism, a comment which could now illicit vocal disapproval on Twitter even if under the guise of humour. But most troubling is that following an epic dance routine, Elle convinces the Harvard elite to accept her on the grounds of love. Though this is obviously played for laughs, it undermines all that Elle goes on to later achieve. Is this a harmless joke or a subtle critique of unconscious bias at play with the gatekeepers at institutions such as Harvard? A topic for another time.
At my core, I’m a devoted musical theatre fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love thought-provoking shows and ones that seek to move me. But my guilty pleasure will always be musicals with lots of belting, break-out dance numbers and big 11 o’clock numbers. For anyone that finds unparalleled joy in care-free musical theatre, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Legally Blonde is a must see.
Legally Blonde is running at the Assembly Rooms on Aug 2 – 24 at the time of writing. Photography credit: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland/Robert McFadzean.