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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Review: Legally Blonde at Newcastle Tyne Theatre



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A Real Feel-Good Hit

Legally Blonde
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Saturday 28th November 2015



Newcastle’s West End Musical Company have an entertaining hit that keeps away the winter blues.

This hit musical is based upon the Amanda Brown novel and 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon.  Elle Woods is president of UCLA's sorority Delta Nu. She cares about her appearance and her boyfriend Warner and cannot wait for him to propose to her.

Elle Woods and her sorority sisters.
Alisar Taylor, Mel Hodgetts, Cheryl Moody (who plays Elle Woods),
Melanie Tate, Jobeth Maddison
Photo: Adrian Jackson
Her plans fall apart when Warner dumps her and heads off to Harvard Law School. Adding to the cruelty, her ex explains that he needs someone more serious “more Jackie than Marilyn.”  But Elle is a determined individual and she decides, with the help of her sorority friends, to get into Harvard herself and follow Warner.

Alex Easten (Emmett), Cheryl Moody (Elle), Kevin Rhodes (Warner)
Photo: Adrian Jackson
Harvard is a culture shock to poor Elle. Her lecturer, Professor Callahan, has both 4 internships to offer and a ruthless reputation.  Warner has already found himself a new serious girlfriend, Vivienne, who makes life difficult for Elle.

Elle finds friends in the shape of older student Emmett and her beautician Paulette and together they tackle their problems.

Cheryl Moody as Elle Woods
Photo: Adrian Jackson
The reason why Legally Blonde works as a musical is that Elle is not a quitter and she has a good circle of friends. The feel-good play is not afraid to suggest issues of snobbery, misogyny, homophobia and elitism. Yet, it keeps a cheerful positive mantra which makes the audience both warm to the characters and leave happy.

The hardworking cast had to sing and dance the night away. Elle, Paulette and Emmett came across as loveable thanks to the consistent efforts of Cheryl Moody, Alex Easten and Nicola Hewitt. Kevin Rhodes and Caroline Sabiston played the role of love rat and power hungry new girlfriend well. 

Steve Halliday had sufficient presence to carry off the role as the tough professor. The chorus of sorority girls often helped lighten the mood too.  

Nicola Hewett who plays Paulette and
Cheryl Moody who plays Elle with their
on-stage dogs Patsy, who plays
Rufus, and Chi-Chi, who plays Bruiser.
Photo: Adrian Jackson
The script has a number of lighter moments and director Martyn Knight takes advantage of these without letting the pace slow down.  Whilst the set was sometimes slow to fall into place, it is credit to the cast that they kept on going. Special mention goes to Stephen Mason, whose appearance as Kyle the UPS guy, had the perfect mix of humour and audience interaction.

Unlike a jukebox musical, the musical numbers help deliver the story and these were well sung. For such a large cast, there was no weak link in the vocals. The music was played live by a talented 11 piece band under the musical direction of Andrew Soulsby.

Cheryl Moody and Chi-Chi who play Elle Woods and Bruiser
Photo: Adrian Jackson
Everyone, though, is in danger of being upstaged by two very cute dogs who appear as Bruiser and Rufus. Both animals were well behaved.

This is a heart-warming show, with a positive message, delivered by a great dedicated and talented cast. It is well worth checking out.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo


Tickets:
Legally Blonde is on at the Tyne Theatre, Westgate Road, Newcastle.  Performances are nightly at 7pm from Tuesday 24th until Saturday 28th November, as well as matinee performances at 2pm on the Thursday and Saturday.

Tickets can be booked online at www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk, by calling 0844 2491000 or in person at the Tyne Theatre box office.



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