Legally Blonde Pulteney Grammar School

Legally Blonde Pulteney Grammar School

The Futures Theatre at Paradise has an expansive, bold arena stage that might challenge any production. Pulteney Grammar School (PGS) with its glittering gala rendition of “Legally Blonde” was not only up for the challenge, they nailed it fair and square! With Director Jo Casson together with MD Jonathon Rice at the helm, and with Producer Jamie Hibbert juggling all the bits and pieces, the PGS offering of this popular musical is simply the best I have seen. The opening night’s performance was total energy, commitment and enjoyment that permeated the huge auditorium. And the audience reacted accordingly. They loved it!

The orchestra led by MD Jonathon Rice provided the perfect framework for the show to build upon. The music was subtle yet insistent throughout. The drumming sequence onstage was nothing short of the Fourth of July! The whole musical background just hit the spot. Very professional. Choreography by Rosanna Dobre and Jo Casson must have presented a real challenge with such huge numbers on stage at chorus times, yet all routines were slick, timely, and superbly executed. The kaleidoscope of movement throughout was the backbone of the production. It was at all times crisp, sassy and looked super smart.

Chris Hill’s mostly mobile settings were cleverly devised and constructed and worked a treat. Each setting was spot on providing excellent backdrop visuals to the action on stage. The projected images of the Ivy League University exterior and interior, as well as the prison setting in act 2, were perfectly chosen and placed. Between scenes movement noise (always to be expected) was kept within the boundaries of necessity by a well-drilled backstage crew. Here I commend backstage management by Jess Wolfendale. It is a role often overlooked for notice yet the SM has complete control backstage once the curtain goes up. With such a huge cast and numerous scene changes it is a pivotal task.

Costuming was both well chosen and great fun. Costuming Coordinator Madi Schubert together with the costume team led by Rachel Ki, Jordan Bender and Lucy Johnson can be well pleased with their combined attention to style, colour and detail. The whole cast looked a million dollars!

And so to the strong and evenly talented cast. Taylor Schwartz slipped into the role of Elle with absolute ease. Her confidence, professional poise, great voice and exuberant airs and graces wowed us all. This was particularly evident in a number like “Bend and Snap” with her “personal” chorus and Paulette. Taylor made the stage her own with a superb performance. Stuffy social climbing “would be” Warner Huntington 111 was deftly played by Liam Goodes. His characterisation was consistent and his voice good and true in numbers like “Serious”. His projected personality was an apt contrast to that of Elle.

Patrick Longden as Emmet went about his business on stage in a workmanlike manner. He immediately elicited the audience’s approval. He and Elle worked very well together culminating in the well devised and delivered “clothing makeover” scene in act 2. Patrick has a lovely singing voice that delivers great range and clarity. I really liked “A Chip on my Shoulder” with Elle in act 1. As Paulette the hair salon proprietress, Sophie Fonovic almost stole the show with her rendition of “Ireland” a song of love’s labour’s lost and leprechauns. With clarity of voice, song salesmanship and comic timing, particularly in scenes with Kyle the Aussie delivery guy (a rather shy Max Boucher!) Sophie constructed a memorable and loveable character. Her level of applause at curtain call was affirmation indeed.

Addison Ritossa as Vivienne crafted a suitably mean spirited and vindictive rival for Warner’s favourable attention. She invested her character with good voice and strong demeanour. Henry Tran’s Professor Callahan encapsulated a self-absorbed academic superiority as transmitted via his low key and somewhat menacing song “Blood in the Water”. A power figure hiding a darker motive as demonstrated by his predatory approach to a shocked yet strong and resilient Elle. Henry gave a very mature, well modulated performance in this role. Health fitness guru Brooke is delightfully realised by Emerson McClurg. She shone in the prison and courtroom scenes as her old connection with Elle won through. Emerson has stage presence and demonstrated great timing in her role.

Elle’s friends, her so called “Greek Chorus” comprising Serena (Polly Schubert), Pilar (Nektaria Mavragelos) and Margot (Maggie Bridges), combined fine voices with sharp dance routines as they whirled, twirled and snapped their ever welcome presence. They were an energetic force within a brilliant chorus army. I cannot make mention of all the little cameo performances that coalesce to make a whole entertainment. Emily Puah as the vocal lesbian law student is one I cannot overlook but there were many others, particularly in the courtroom scenes. I will conclude by saying I was impressed with the little groups on stage who, whilst not the focus of our full attention, went about their business of being part of a stage show and maintaining concentration throughout. What a great fun filled and satisfying school production you have made. Brilliant!

(Photo by Stagelit Studios)

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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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