Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre – until 2 July 2022
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Legally Blonde is the freshest, frothiest and funniest pick-me-up in theatre.
With a wonderfully diverse company, Regent Park Theatre’s production is joyous from the opening chords. Laura Hopkins’ weirdly wonderful set design of curtains of blonde hair and giant love hearts needs to be seen to be believed and is lit fantastically by Philip Gladwell. With Jean Chan’s costumes colour coded to signify tribes (pink for the sorority sisters, orange for the salon team and bland earth tones for the law students), Lucy Moss directs a show which is unashamedly energetic and in your face.
It’s been 20 years since the film came out, and tweaks have been made to some of the more dated scenes, creating a celebration of difference without judgement. Elle still follows her ex, Warner, to Harvard Law to win him back and struggles to fit in. When she decides that the only way to be thought of as “serious” is to dye her hair brunette, salon owner Paulette refuses and becomes her friend and support system, alongside a Greek chorus of Delta Nu sorority girls. Elle’s evolution into a moral and empathetic attorney comes as she realises that she doesn’t need or want Warner.
Courtney Bowman is phenomenal as Elle – genius comic timing, amazing stage presence and THAT voice. Michael Ahomka-Lindsay ‘s Emmet is the perfect foil – passionate and warm as they learn from each other. Grace Mouat, Isaac Hesketh and Hannah Yun Chamberlain are hilarious as the Greek Chorus and Nadine Higgin almost steals the show as Paulette in a barnstorming performance. The entire company is a dream – performing Ellen Kane’s intricate choreography in style. Lauren Drew showing jaw-dropping stamina as fitness guru Brooke and Liam McEvoy is a delight as Bruiser.
Nearly all of Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin’s songs are strong, with Bend and Snap, Whipped into Shape and Gay or European being the standout numbers for me. I don’t think I stopped smiling from curtain up to bows, and the atmosphere in the open-air auditorium was electric. A show full of laughs, sisterhood, sharp moves and incredible vocals, Legally Blonde is THE show of the summer.