This production had dual casts in the principal roles. In the interests of fairness to all performers, TASA reviewed both casts.
Rufus Cast: Reviewed by Terry Mountstephen
Pelican Productions is a company that dedicates itself to cultivating budding talent in musical theatre and who also strive to foster values of teamwork, respect, and the sheer joy of the craft. That skill, enjoyment and dedication clearly shone through their performance of “Legally Blonde the Musical” by the Rufus cast.
From prior to the curtain rising, we are led into the story by Charlie Miller as Kate who roams the audience in character collecting signatures for Elle’s congratulatory engagement card. As Kate steps onto the stage the curtains open and we are now seamlessly immersed in the narrative of the story. The story is a lively and comedic adaptation of the popular film. It follows the journey of Elle Woods (Hannah Brown), a fashionable and determined sorority girl who enrols in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner (Henry Hasler). As Elle navigates the challenges of law school, she discovers her true potential and uses her unique blend of charm and intelligence to triumph in the courtroom.
Hannah Brown plays the iconic Elle with immense confidence and nuance. Her singing was strong and flawless, and her movements truly reflected her character. Elle’s Delta Nu sisters are led by Isabella Eddowes (Pilar), Rebecca Simpson (Margot) and Annabel Wark (Serena). All three are very strong singers and movers and Annabel Wark has that elusive quality that captivates your attention.
Henry Hasler, portraying Elle’s ex-boyfriend, and Caitlin Laventure, depicting Vivienne (the new girlfriend), effectively embody their roles. Alek Kudra playing Emmett, Elle’s mentor, brings depth and sincerity to his role and, with good direction by Adam Goodburn, we can see the relationship between those characters grow. Zoe Waters as Paulette, Elle’s manicurist, and friend, brings her role to life by infusing her character with a vibrant and endearing personality. Paulette’s love interest, Kyle (Matthew Liersch), had the audience eating out of his hands with his confidence, sass, and charisma. Special mention must also be made of Jayden Ayling who through skilful transformations, adeptly portrayed four or more distinct characters, each with their own unique appearance. Regrettably, space constraints prevent me from elaborating on the numerous other talented individuals within this cast.
This production showcased a cohesive ensemble where every participant played an integral role, leaving no room for mere passengers. The direction led to a smooth flowing performance, with great character development throughout and the relationships and connections between the characters were realistic. The portrayal of the sexual harassment scene between the Professor and Elle was strikingly authentic, deftly managed, and convincingly lifelike.
It was hard to fault anything in this production. The singing was well rehearsed, and the harmonies were executed beautifully. The lyrics were easily understood and heard. The choreography showcased the talent and dedication of both the choreographer and the performers. The set design was smart using a set which acted as a backdrop with an area for vivid projections and an ability to use levels. Set changes were effortless and smooth. Costumes and wigs harmoniously complemented the characters. Furthermore, the entirety was upheld by adept lighting and sound design, skilfully executed.
This show has it all – catchy songs, vibrant choreography, and a message of empowerment executed in a highly professional manner. Guaranteed to entertain, and the standing ovation on the night, testament to the standard presented.
Bruiser Cast: Reviewed by Alan Shepley
The Arts Theatre hummed with the excited buzz of (mainly young) theatregoers. Their anticipation was well founded as this Pelican rendition of “Legally Blonde” was simply sensational. Pelican Producers Jen Frith and Kylie Green with their Director Adam Goodburn, MD Ben Francis and Choreographer Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti team up to collectively showcase a multi-talented young cast in a glittering stage production. With stunning visual design by Ray Cullen showcased by lighting design and operation by Cambell Lawrence the show was a stunning feast for the eyes. Stage Manager Anthea Prime can also take a bow on behalf of her crew for a seamless performance re subtle set changes and all things technical back of stage.
Immi Beatie was a vibrant and most personable Elle in this cast. Her confidence, poise, strident voice and exhuberant moves wowed us all particularly in numbers like “Bend and Snap!” with her Greek Chorus and Paulette. She made the stage her own in a superlative performance.
Priggish social climbing Warner Huntington was well inhabited by Ris Mosel. He displayed consistent character throughout and sang with voice good and true in such numbers as “Serious”. His projected personality was an apt contrast to that of Elle. Teagan Garvey as Emmett demonstrated great stage presence and immediately elicited audience approval. Teagan’s voice was most agreeable, well modulated and, in my opinion, well suited to musical theatre. He delivered a nice rendition of “A Chip on my Shoulder” in the first act. He and Elle worked very well together particularly in such scenes as the “clothing makeover” scene.
Courtney Richardson as Vivienne (Warner’s new love interest) was a little mean spirited and vindictive with her rival Elle. I detected a very good voice, both sweet and true, and look forward to seeing Courtney in more musical roles. By way of a contrast Scott Green’s Professor Callahan encapsualed self-absorbed academic superiority as conveyed in his low key, but slightly menacing and prophetic “Blood in the Water”. With clear and pleasing vocals Scott’s take on the sleazy Professor was believable and consistent. A nicely balanced and mature performance.
As Paulette, hair salon proprietor extraordinaire, Sophie Morris displayed clarity of voice and great song salesmanship with particular reference to her contribution in the “Bend and Snap” routine. Her interactions with Kyle the Delivery Guy ( played to poseur perfection by Matthew Liersch ) really tickled the fancy of a delighted audience. Matthew captured Kyle perfectly in a lovely cameo role. Amy Gallery played Elle’s old sorority sister Brooke, fitness instructor and falsely jailed (but hiding a little secret!) Amy lead chorus and dancers in the vigorous routine “Whipped into Shape”. Elle’s so called Greek Chorus comprising Serena (Chloe Dowd), Pila (Vasileia Markou) and Margot (Isabelle Letic) with combined fine voices were ever present whipping, snapping, whirling and twirling. An energetic trio within a brilliant company.
Other notable cameos by Josh McDonald (Elle’s well voiced Dad and a wonderfully camp pool attendant, Nicos) together with Matthew Daniel (an outraged Carlos) were spot on with regard to comic timing. They well deserved their audience reaction, well done lads! All vocals delivered against the music template reflected both high quality coaching and rehearsing. Movement was beautifully slick, imaginative and faultless and made the show a joy to watch. Chorus work was quite sublime. What a great show you have all delivered!