LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical – Balaklava Community Arts

LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical – Balaklava Community Arts

With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin, the production of Legally Blonde the Musical has become a favourite with many production companies, and so it is with great interest that I had the chance to witness the version by Balaklava Community Arts (BCA). Director Abby Silverman has assembled a mix of seasoned and not-so-seasoned performers together who present a show that BCA can be proud of.

The plot is a simple love story: Elle is dumped by her boyfriend and tries valiantly to win him back to no avail. The story takes us to Harvard, a court room and various other locations, but there is a happy conclusion.

For this show to be a success, it is important the leading player is a competent actor, singer and dancer, and Alicia Hancock in the role of Elle Woods did not disappoint! She had stage presence, managed quick costume changes, sang with excitement when needed, and beautifully managed ballads when required.

The two male lead actors are played by Axel Moen as Warner Harrington and Michael Hardy as Emmet Forest. Although the two are not direct enemies they appear to the audience as a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’. Warner, the baddie, dumps Elle as he thinks she is not good enough for him, and Emmet, the goodie, slowly but surely wins Elle. Both actors play their parts well, and their singing and dancing leaves no doubt as to who they are and what they want to achieve.

The ‘go to’ person for Elle is her hairdresser Paulette Bonafonte, perfectly played by Kelly Bickle. Her powerful voice and stagecraft (particularly when performing ‘Bend and Snap’) is memorable as is her body language when she meets the parcel delivery man. It is evident from her performance that Kelly has a lot of theatrical training and experience.

The ‘other woman’ who initially wins Warren’s heart is Vivienne Kensington, a Harvard student ably portrayed by Elise Fazzari. She develops this role beautifully from being a bit uptight  and snooty to finally seeing what is happening.  She develops throughout the show to become a good friend.

The principals are rounded out by Toby Strudwicke as Professor Callahan, the law lecturer and solicitor. The two aspects of this role are played well: the first being the stern teacher and court performer, and the second being a cad when trying to seduce Elle without success and firing her. Strudwicke’s voice is ideal for the stage – he has strength and projection.

The seventeen support actors were all given the chance to show their wares at sometime throughout the show and all came through with flying colours. One show stopper however was Jessie Rouse as Brooke Wyndham who led the team in the opening number of act 2 performing a very energetic skipping arrangement to the music ‘Whipped into Shape’. It would be remiss not to mention Daisy as Rufus and Florence as Bruiser in their cameos.

Musical Director Kate Walker set a well timed pace, but there were occasions when the music overpowered some of the performers and some lines were unable to be heard. Jodie Lind’s choreography worked well with the music and all routines were performed energetically by the cast.

The sets were effective and moved and changed around the stage with little or no interruption to the continuity of the play. The lighting was well managed, as were other backstage functions. Well done to BCA, and we look forward to your next production.

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