SOME musicals are big on fluff and short on substance but it soon becomes evident that there’s more to Legally Blonde: The Musical (running at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham until December 3) than meets the eye.
In the beginning the story is simple enough. Ravishing, blonde, college homecoming queen Elle Woods may be bubble-headed but she’s hooked the perfect boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, handsome scion of a wealthy family.
Everybody on the Southern California campus loves the popular Elle but soon reality kicks in.
Warner comes from a privileged background and aims to be in the Senate by the time he’s 30. He fears that his blue blood East Coast friends will not accept shopaholic Elle, who gives tanning and makeup a higher priority than academic achievement. A case of Warner needing a bit less Marilyn Monroe and more Jackie Kennedy.
Before heading off to law school at Harvard University, Warner dumps her, leaving Elle bereft. But she won’t take no for an answer and, to howls of scorn and derision, she enrols on the same law course.
Elite Ivy Leaguers, particularly Warren’s old pep school sweetheart Vivenne, lose no opportunity to put Elle in her place. Law tutor Professor Callahan is also far from impressed. But with a little help from her new friends, world-weary hairdresser Paulette, fellow law student Emmett and her loveable dog Bruiser, Elle begins to realise that she is smarter than she ever imagined.
The show is still running at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End but this touring version is strongly cast. Faye Brooks is a stunning Elle and Iwan Lewis equally impressive as Emmett.
Claire Sweeney, so popular with Theatre Royal audiences down the years, is in classic form as Paulette and another West End veteran, Dave Willetts, makes a formidable teacher of law.
There are some slick changes of sets and costumes, the 20 song and dance numbers are handled with ease and Faye Brooks gives a highly believable performance as Elle is transformed from the college airhead into somebody entirely different.
Judging by the murmurs of approval as the audience left the theatre the jury won’t be out long to return a verdict on this one. Case proved, indeed.