Legally Blonde – Murray Bridge Players and Singers

Legally Blonde – Murray Bridge Players and Singers

Two years ago almost to the day, I travelled to the Murray Bridge Town Hall to see the Players and Singers’ production of “Mamma Mia”. Regardless of the Covid restrictions at the time, that production was wonderful. When I perused the “Legally Blonde” programme and noted it was driven by (almost) the same production team my expectations rose. They were further stimulated by the excited buzz of mostly young theatregoers in the Town Hall entrance foyer enjoying the pre-show food and drinks package. Most of them had arrived in pink-themed clothing as per the MBP&S suggestion. It was a great precursor to the evening’s performance. My anticipation was well founded, the Players and Singers’ rendition of “Legally Blonde” was simply a knockout!

Director’s Robyn Bates and Trent Baker have used their joint expertise, together with their talented team, in order to firmly and astutely place their stamp on an excellent end product. Sound created by the orchestra led by MD Peta Davis was smooth, well modulated and very easy on the ear. Whilst I can see the production needs to opt for an apron extended stage I was mildly disappointed the orchestra was confined to its covered pit. They were so good and so well received it would have been nice to see as well as hear them. The orchestra provided an excellent musical framework for the show to build upon. The other “technical” aspect underpinning this show’s success was stunning choreographed movement throughout. Choreographer Abby McIntosh has a magical touch and has left her fingerprint on every slick and superbly executed routine. The kaleidoscope of movement was much loved and appreciated by the enthusiastic audience. Routines by the whole company, the “Greek Chorus” and by individuals alike was crisp and looked super smart. Abby also plays “botox” Brooke (but calling her that might just give the game away!).

Across such a large cast I was also universally impressed with vocal delivery. All lead roles were on the money at all times and the Company’s chorus vocals were strong, confident and true. Costuming was well chosen and great fun. Costume team leader Katie Millan, together with Head Seamstress Samantha Pope and all of their costumers and dressers can feel well pleased with their combined efforts. All things technical, front of house and, seemingly, backstage as well, worked like clockwork. A slight sound crackling was quickly attended to on a couple of occasions but those things can always bob up on opening night. It was smooth sailing from go to whoa!

And so to the very strong and even cast. Katie Kneebone slipped into the role of Elle with absolute ease. Her confidence, professional poise, great voice and exuberant moves wowed us all, particularly in numbers like “Bend and Snap” with her “personal” chorus and Paulette. She made the stage her own in a superb performance. Stuffy, social-climbing “would be” Warner Huntington III was deftly adopted by Kurt Miegel whose characterisation was always consistent. Kurt’s voice was good and true in such numbers as “Time to get, Serious!”. His projected personality was such an apt contrast compared with that of Elle. Blake Ascione as Emmet went about his business on stage in a workmanlike manner. He immediately elicited the audience’s approval. He and Elle increasingly worked well together culminating in the well devised and delivered “clothing makeover” scene in Act 2. Blake’s voice is agreeably even and accurate and he delivered a nice version of “A Chip on my Shoulder” in Act 1. As Paulette, proprietor of the “Hair Affair” salon, Lorelle Barton really tickled everybody’s fancy with her rendition of “Ireland” a song of loves labours lost and leprechauns. With clarity of voice, song salesmanship and simple conviction Lorelle was entertaining and memorable. She displayed a good instinct for comic timing, along with Elle and the Company in the “Bend and Snap” sequence. Great fun.

By way of character contrast Noel Kneebone’s Professor encapsulated self absorbed academic superiority as transmitted via his low key but slightly menacing song “Blood in the Water”. Powerful but not entirely harmless as demonstrated by an inappropriate approach to a shocked but resilient Elle. Shades of Harvey Weinstein! Noel’s take on the Professor was believably consistent. Belle Ballard as Vivienne crafted a rather mean spirited and vindictive creature in competition with Elle for Warner’s favourable attentions. She lent her character good voice and strong demeanour in leading the Company with “Legally Blonde Remix”. Belle’s performance was well controlled and intelligent. Elle’s friends, her so called “Greek Chorus” comprising Serena (Breigh Angove), Pilar (Sahara Angove) and Margot (Cassie Brion) combined fine voices and were ever present whirling, twirling, whipping and snapping their most welcome presence. They were an energetic team within a brilliant company!

I cannot name everybody even though I feel everybody deserved to be named! However, I must make final mention of Hamish Plummer and Evan Walker. Hamish and co-dance captain Tenille Schulz were obviously charged with the responsibility of being key company members leading dance routines. I have said how important movement is throughout this piece and Hamish’s cameos as Kyle and Carlos epitomised just that. His deliveryman shtick was very funny. His courtroom sequence with Evan (as Nikos) stole that scene right away. Both Hamish and Evan displayed a talent for comedic demeanour and movement. The audience loved it!

The Murray Bridge Players and Singers have created a sublime piece of musical theatre. The audience was delighted and so was this reviewer. Once again I have been bowled over by the depth of talent you have in and around “The Bridge”. May you long continue.

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This production was reviewed by:

Alan Shepley
Alan Shepley
Whilst at University and Adelaide Teachers College he performed with Adelaide Uni Footlights, Therry and Theatre Guild before being appointed to country teaching positions. Over 35 years he was involved with school and/or community theatre productions in all facets of getting a show on stage at Pt. Augusta, Kadina , Balaklava and Pt. Pirie.

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