Elle Woods is about to get married to the man of her dreams. However, he has other ideas.
When her snob of a boyfriend chucks her for being insufficiently serious – not to mention vulgarly nouveau-riche – Elle comes up with a plan: to pursue him to Harvard Law School and win him back. There’s just one problem: her candyfloss wardrobe and sorority-girl attitude is entirely at odds with the imperious, oak-panelled solemnity of the Ivy League college.
As teenagers, my friends and I were obsessed with Legally Blonde. We could sing along to the upbeat, savvy soundtrack word-perfectly; the Delta Nu sorority symbol was painstakingly drawn onto notebooks and doodled in margins.
My adolescent fervour was reignited recently by a flatmate who actually went to study Law after becoming hooked on the Reese Witherspoon movie of Legally Blonde. What better testimony to the story’s narrative of female empowerment?
At Harvard, Elle has a serious case of imposter syndrome, exacerbated by her fellow students – earnest types who march around declaring “Harvard’s the perfect place for me”. What I love about this musical is that Elle does not adapt to her surroundings. She forces her surroundings to adapt to her.
Stereotypical feminine traits are shown to be positive rather than silly; the ruthless (male) prof promotes emotional detachment and betrayal of confidence, and Elle stands up for the values of female friendship and trust.
Her sorority gal-pals appear throughout Elle’s journey through law school as a “Greek chorus”, providing her with unwavering support and advice as her studies progress. It’s basically your girls’ group chat, but in song and dance form.
Choreographic highlights include an whole-ensemble Irish dance against an enormous tricolour unfurled from the ceiling (Ireland, hilariously, functions as a kind of Utopian metaphor for a perfect romantic partnership and family life). There is also a fabulous, energetic sequence of an aerobics class in a penitentiary, featuring jumpsuits and light-up skipping ropes.
It’s absurd and funny – the audience howled when a Cupid, in glittery swimming trunks, roller skated onto the stage during a love scene.
Culminating in a riotous chorus medley and a well-deserved standing ovation, this playful and slick show – starring soap favourites Rita Simons and Bill Ward – was a silly, sparkly triumph. I might even start wearing pink to work.
Legally Blonde runs until Saturday 14 April at Blackpool Grand Theatre. For more information or to book tickets visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call the box office on 01253 290 190.
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