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Preview: Legally Blonde at South Shields Customs House


The Customs House Summer School presents
Legally Blonde: The Musical
South Shields Customs House
Friday 11th August - Sunday 13th August 2017

Meet the mutts who will be treading the boards after collaring roles in The Customs House Summer School’s production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.
Open auditions were held to recruit four-legged actors to play Bruiser and Rufus.  They have now joined the cast as rehearsals enter their final days and are enjoying spending time with their on-stage owners.  Five dogs were cast in total – Chihuahuas Marley, Chip and Dolly, who will share the role of Bruiser, and English Bulldogs Reggie and Bud, who will play Rufus.

(Back) Caitlin Florence with Dolly, Laura Roberts
with Chip and Georgina Whale Spencer with Marley
(Front) Bonny-Belle Atack with Reggie
and Jess Corrigan with Bud.

Director Gareth Hunter said: “They are lovely dogs and the cast has really taken to them.   We ended up with a few different ones because so many lovely dogs came down for the auditions and they all worked really well on stage, so we are going to let them have a couple of shows each.”

Bruiser belongs to the lead character, Elle Woods, played by 15-year-old Laura Roberts, from Cleadon, while Rufus is owned by her nail technician friend, Paulette Bonafonte, played by Jess Corrigan, 20, from Washington.  Laura said: “It is lovely because I just get to pick them up and cuddle them, whereas Jess has a lot more to handle with Reggie and Bud!”

Jess said: “I have never worked with such big dogs before, and Reggie and Bud are so big, but I love dogs so I am not too fussed.” 

(l-r) Laura Roberts with Chip, Caitlin Florence
with Dolly and Georgina Whale Spencer with Marley.
Reggie’s owner, Kath Brown, from Sunderland, said the two-year-old has showbiz in his blood, as his grandfather appeared in an advert for Irn Bru.
Meanwhile, three-year-old Bud’s owner, Alison Hill, from Jarrow, was told he would never walk again after suffering a spinal stroke last year.  She said: “He must be spoilt because he fought his way through it and now he’s going to strut his stuff on stage. He’s a little star.”

The Cast
Dolly, three, is another pampered pooch, as her owner, Rachel Shippen, 30, from South Shields, makes little outfits for her that Elle would approve of.

Marley, also three, is owned by Lewis Watson, 15, from South Shields, while the youngest dog, 10-month-old Chip, belongs to Adrienne Leggett, from South Shields.  Her grand-daughter, Eve Brown, 15, from Jarrow, plays Whitney in the show.

The cast have been working non-stop since the start of the school holidays and are putting the finishing touches to what promises to be an amazing show.
Gareth added: “The kids and everyone else involved have worked extremely hard and we’re now busy pulling everything together – costume, props, lighting and projection. It is going to be a fantastic show, big and bright and flashy, with a bit of something for everyone.” 

Legally Blonde: The Musical is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon, which has also been a hit on Broadway and the West End.  Elle is a sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, by getting a law degree from Harvard University.  Her personality is totally out of sync with her classmates, who refuse to take her seriously, but she finds a friend in Emmett Richardson, who gives her advice.   When she eventually realises Warner will never take her back, she sets out to prove herself on her own terms.

The Customs House Summer School presents Legally Blonde: The Musical runs from Friday, August 11 to Sunday, August 13, at The Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields. Performances are at 7pm on Friday and 2pm and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, priced from £11, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

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