Sunday, March 31, 2013

Legally Blonde: The Musical (Original Australian Cast)

Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Cast: Luck Durack (Elle Woods), Rob Mills (Warner Huntington III), David Harris (Emmett Forrest), Helen Dallimore (Paulette Bonafonte), Cameron Daddo (Professor Callahan), and Erika Heynatz (Brooke Wyndham)

My favourite songs - Omigod You Guys, Ireland, Chip On My Shoulder, So Much Better, Take It Like A Man, Legally Blonde (Remix), & Find My Way/Finale.

Have you ever done anything drastic for love? Or even changed your hair colour or hairstyle because of love? It's funny cos one of my recent posts The Wedding Planner was about how failures in love have made me who I am today. 

I recently caught Legally Blonde: The Musical in Brisbane Australia. It's on at the Lyric Theatre until 21 April and it'll be showing in Melbourne from May 2013 at the Princess Theatre. If you haven't gone to see it, you MUST GO! I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think it's even better than the LEGALLY blonde film! As you can tell I throughly enjoyed the musical. Why you might ask?

I feel that the musical did a great job with the character building. There are of course rather significant differences between the film and the musical. Some characters have been combined with others for the stage, which is totally understandable. But the changes applied to the characters made the story work better. Also, I love the fact that the musical expanded on the backstory of two well-loved characters in the film - Emmett and Paulette. Paulette even has her own solo song titled Ireland. And for Emmett, through the song Chip On My Shoulder, we find out more about what drives him to be a lawyer and his backstory makes us fall for him more than we do in the film. 

The musical is also hilarious! If you thought LEGALLY blonde is funny, you will love the musical even more. Yes, as with most stage productions, the actions and acting is more dramatised and over the top. But in the case of this musical, it works for it and not against it. The witty dialogue between songs adds flavour to the musical so that it becomes a great stand alone performance from the film, and without taking away what we love about LEGALLY blonde

While I feel that Resse Witherspoon's Elle Woods gives the audience more to chew on with regards to Elle's lovely nuances, Lucy Durack is a wonderful more comedic version to the film's Elle Woods. Reese Witherspoon's emotional performance is not seen as much in the musical, but due to the nature of stage performances, I think giving the musical's Elle a more lighthearted (read: Blonde) personality suits it perfectly. 

I first heard Rob Mills perform in Sydney, when he was playing the role of Fiyero in the musical Wicked. Maybe it was an off day for him when I saw him perform in Sydney, cos he went off key and was pitchy during the performance. While it didn't ruin my entire Wicked experience, it did make me take note of who he was, just in case I see him name come up again at any other musicals. Hearing him in Legally Blonde: The Musical, I have to applaud him for his performance. It was flawless and I really wanted to slap him, well not him but Warner, for being such an ass. And comparing to the film version of Warner, I think that the character is evenly matched. 

Cool bar eh?
When the Australian and Asian tour of Wicked came to Singapore I went to watch the musical again. But before I watched the show, I had bought the tickets of course, I was a little worried knowing that it was the Australian production because of Rob Mills' performance as Fiyero. I was thrilled to find out that Fiyero was played by another actor. A fact I only realised on the day of the musical. The performer for Fiyero in Singapore was none other than David Harris. He plays the beefed up role of Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde: The Musical, and he did a fantastic job. 

Emmett Forrest gets a backstory in the musical, something lacking in the film. And I enjoyed the fact that he has a bigger role in pushing Elle to be a better person. Legally Blonde: The Musical's Emmett also more outwardly (at least to the audience) believes in Elle's abilities and I think that was a very smart move. This also enabled the audience to actually see Elle and Emmett gradually fall in love with each other. 

Professor Callahan's nasty personality shines right through from the first time we see him on stage and I think this version of the character, though stereotypical, is more credible and less of a surprise. Props to Cameron Daddo for playing a wonderfully mean and utterly heartless Professor Callahan. 

I love Selma Blair's Vivienne to bits. Even though she was such a b***h almost all throughout the film. She played in well. Ali Calder's Vivienne was more aggressive so I find her change from foe to friend rather abrupt. But I suppose it had to be someone within the team of lawyers to remind Elle of the right she has to be legally blonde. 

I have to do a shout out for Erika Heynatz and stage debut as Brooke Wyndham in Legally Blonde: The Musical. She has great stamina! In the musical, she is introduced through a very funny and well staged video workout, but in it, she has to sing and skip at the same time. Then, to make things more interesting and harder for her, she has to 'pause' while the lawyers talk about her case while she's halfway through her routine (she was doing a pelvic lift). Omigod you guys! A-mazing! 

The bar was also dressed for the occasion!
The musical assembled a wonderful cast of actors and the adaptation from book & film to musical was awesome! I am now crossing my fingers in the hopes that Legally Blonde: The Musical will make its way to Singapore so I can watch it again. 

Before I saw the musical, I was wondering how on earth were they going to turn the film into a musical. There wasn't any singing at all in the film. And I have to say that the songs written for the musical is pretty awesome. Having watched Spider-Man on Broadway, which sadly disappointed me as a musical, I was apprehensive as to whether Legally Blonde: The Musical would be disappointing as well. Well, it didn't. In fact, it nailed the essence of the message and did one better than the film. 

The show opened to a very upbeat song titled Omigod You Guys. So right from the beginning its shows great prospect. I love majority of the songs in Legally Blonde: The Musical. One of my favourite songs is Take It Like A Man

Emmett: Whoa. I look like Warner.
Elle: Yes...
Emmett: But it's just me.
Elle: That's the best part. The outside is new, but now it reflects what's already in you. Couldn't change that if I wanted to. 

- Lyrics from Take It Like A Man

This is the scene that continues to develop the feelings and relationship between Elle and Emmett. The scene also reminds me of two scenes in two different movies, both of which I really like - Confessions Of A Shopaholic and Drive Me Crazy. In both films, they take the male lead shopping at the department store. Hugh Dancy's Luke Brandon in Confessions Of A Shopaholic has curly hair like David Harris which makes the connection uncannily similar. And they both don't see the need to dress the part of a successful man. And in Drive Me Crazy, Adrian Grenier's Chase Hammond, who by the way also has curly hair, is dragged to the department store to get a major make over from Melissa Joan Hart's Nicole Maris. But in terms of the song and the scene, I think it was hilarious and the song is really quite catchy.

Paulette: See my mum was three quarters italian, and my father I never knew. But my grandfather came from Ireland. The land where dreams come true.

Elle: Ireland?
Paulette: Yeah, Ireland. He said all Irish men are like heroes. They're descended from poets and kings. So I swore I'd get married in Ireland. In a wedding like Lord Of The Rings. And my red headed groom I can see him. As we stroll past the churches in thongs. He's a sailor named Brandon or Liam. He can dance without moving his arms...

- Lyrics from Ireland

The song Ireland sung by Paulette not only tells us develops her backstory more, it is absolutely comical yet sweet and I love how they make the Irish connection throughout her storyline with the UPS guy. They even do a bit of Irish stepdancing later in the show. I watched Riverdance and loved it, so when the Legally Blonde cast started stepdancing I was laughing so hard. 

I was living in ignorant bliss, till I learned I could be more like this. And you know in a way I owe it all to you. I thought losing your love was a blow I could never withstand, but look how far I have come without having to cling to your hand. I had to find my way. The day you broke my heart, you handed me the chance to make a brand new start. You helped me find my way. There's still so much to learn, so many dreams to earn, but even if I crash and burn 10 times a day I think I'm here to stay. I'm gonna find my way.

- Lyrics from Find My Way/Finale

Another highlight of the musical is the special appearance of 2 characters. These 2 made such an entrance that everyone in the theatre was laughing so hard, myself included. So don't hesitate no more! Grab your tickets today! I got the CD of the musical which was recorded by the Original London Cast. And truth be told, I like the voices of the Australian Cast members better. Here is a clip of the Legally Blonde Australia Behind The Scenes footages to wet your appetite. 

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks... that when one door closes, another opens, that is one of the themes of the musical. But mostly, Legally Blonde: The Musical is about girl power and will remind us that anyone can do great things and not to judge a book by its cover. Watching a musical in Australia again after nearly 3 years has also made her realise that she actually knows the Australian 
musical scene better than she does the one at home in Singapore. 

* Musical's Poster from Wikipedia

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