Review: Legally Blonde

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Legally Blonde is one of the best and most challenging musicals out there. Its fast-paced script is characterised by a seemingly endless string of iconic, high-energy musical numbers, interspersed with some genuinely touching and heart-warming moments. All of it is, of course, centred around the iconic character of Elle Woods, a pampered UCLA sorority girl who decides to try her hand at Harvard Law School in order to win back her boyfriend. Along the way, she discovers her love for legal advocacy and forges her own unique (and very pink) path into the legal profession.

Given the less-than-ideal circumstances, Phillips did a frankly phenomenal job

Trevelyan College Musical Society was presented with a very difficult set of circumstances when was sadly unable to perform as Elle Woods on opening night. Rumour after the show had it that Emily Phillips, previously playing one of Elle’s sorority friends, was asked to take on the role of Elle a mere 4 hours before the show opened. Naturally, the on-stage transition from spoiled sorority girl to passionate legal advocate in the space of a 2-hour show is no mean feat. Given the less-than-ideal circumstances, Phillips did a frankly phenomenal job. 

If Phillips felt nervous stepping into the limelight as Elle Woods with a script firmly in hand and barely any chance to rehearse, it did not show once she was on stage. Phillips’ incredible singing talents carried her reliably through all of Elle’s show-stopping numbers. By the time act two began, it felt like Phillips had settled into the role well, as she delivered a truly beautiful and practically flawless rendition of ‘Legally Blonde’, alongside as Emmett. In this song, she displayed a sense of vulnerability and a sweetness that was undeniably and effortlessly Elle Woods. 

Understandably, Phillips quite frequently struggled to keep up with the fast pace of the show, almost never getting the chance to leave the stage in this very demanding role. What was beautiful to see was that she was not left to struggle alone: the camaraderie displayed by the cast on-stage was fantastic. as Callahan helping to smooth over lost lyrics at the beginning of ‘There! Right There!’, or as Vivienne helping to cover for lost lines in the party scene might seem like small acts. However, these efforts were not in vain. It was blatant that every cast member was trying their best to keep the show moving and to support Phillips wherever they could.

Stanton did not miss a beat with his pitch-perfect vocals, managing to drive all of his scenes forward with incredible confidence

Stand-out performances came from Emmett, Paulette, and Callahan. was perfectly cast and very believable as Emmett — the young, down-to-earth law graduate who becomes Elle’s biggest supporter and love interest. Stanton did not miss a beat with his pitch-perfect vocals, managing to drive all of his scenes forward with incredible confidence, all whilst (despite the circumstances) building convincing chemistry with Elle over the course of the show. 

in the role of Paulette stole the show every time she stepped on the stage, successfully milking all the beautiful comedy the script gifted her with — not to mention the fact that she has a fantastic voice. The audience almost cheered the hexagonal roof off Trevs after her superb rendition of ‘Ireland’. commanded the stage very well in his role as Callahan, and was extremely enjoyable to watch, despite unfortunate difficulties with microphones that meant he was very difficult to hear in ‘Blood in the Water’. 

The show did suffer throughout from difficulties with sound. Unreliable microphones on several cast members, unfortunately, meant many lines were lost. It was an especially big shame that much of the comedy at the beginning of the show in the sorority scenes went missing. Having said this, the energy of the cast was infectious, and as the show progressed, it felt that their confidence only grew. The audience was loving it and technical difficulties were quickly forgiven as everyone supported this very talented company through a very demanding show in difficult circumstances.

Held was simply perfect in the cameo role of UPS guy, commanding the stage every time he stepped foot on it

Special mentions should also go to and Dorian Held. Horgan stood out for her superb acting abilities as Enid, whilst also covering very convincingly (presumably at very short notice) as a member of the Greek Chorus (replacing Phillips). Held was simply perfect in the cameo role of UPS guy, commanding the stage every time he stepped foot on it. He seemed completely natural and at ease in such a comedic role, taking his time with everything he did and inviting the audience to enjoy the superb comedy of this show.

Despite all difficulties, it was clear throughout that Director had a very clear vision for the show. The minimal staging was utilised well and scene changes were very smooth. Choreographer should be commended for her choreography, which was well-tailored to the cast. Finally, the band, led by Musical Director Will Scoones, assisted by Josh Man, deserves a special mention. They ploughed through the show, never missing a beat, and trying their utmost to ensure that Phillips knew when to come in her musical numbers.

The cast and crew at Trevelyan College Musical Society should be commended for seeing through a famously difficult and demanding show in the most undesirable of circumstances. Not only did they see it through — their confidence blossomed throughout the show, before the audience’s very eyes. By the end, the energy on that stage was simply infectious, and the cast was simply a joy to watch. Snaps for this very resilient and talented cast and crew, and wishing you all the best for your remaining shows!

Image credit: Trevelyan College Music Society

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