REVIEW: Legally Blonde at Stourbridge Town Hall

Legally Blonde is a musical based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrols at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial.

The show premiered in San Francisco, before a move to Broadway in 2007, receiving seven Tony nominations. The West End production opened in 2010 and was nominated for five Olivier Awards, winning three including 'Best New Musical'.

And that's a point I think we need to stress - 'Legally Blonde' is so much more than a pink, fluffy love story. The show definitely has some sequins and sparkle, but it's also a vocally demanding, high energy salute to equality and not judging a book by its cover. It deals with some important issues and is as relevant today as it was when it made its debut over a decade ago.

I've seen Legally Blonde more than a handful of times. Over the year's it's toured relentlessly and it's become a staple for some of our local groups. I also caught a youth company doing the 'junior' version of the show which, whilst retaining the premise, certainly dulls the story down somewhat. However what the youth section of QBMTS are giving us is a younger casts interpretation of the full show - a feat which is admirable considering the size and scale of what this piece is.

The set is comparatively simple. Larger scale productions tend to have things flying in and rising through the floor, but the restrictions of a venue like Stourbridge Town Hall mean flats and cloths are a compromise you have to make - but the creative team did a good job of making the most of that. Credit to the band as well who really brought the sound of the production to life. Legally Blonde has a great soundtrack with some brilliant songs and to hear those in all their glory was appreciated.

But what really makes a show like this is the cast and with some slick choreography and some incredibly energetic musical numbers, nobody has a place to hide. However the team on stage tonight definitely show why British theatre is right at the top of its game.

Robyn Harding takes on the role of Paulette and grabs it with both hands. A definite hit with the audience, Harding has a strong singing voice and a brilliant comic acting style. Her presence on the stage is commanding and the casting is superb - she moulds into every facet of Paulette's character and creates a believable and strong female rather than, what can sometimes be, an exaggerated character who is played just for laughs.

Alex Brettell is exemplary as Emmet - a part I would say is one of the best male leads in modern theatre. You get some great solo's, some funny one liner's, you stand up for Elle and in the end you get your girl. Brettell is more than a safe pair of hands for the role and his chemistry with Elle shines through.

Isabella Cook takes on the role of Vivian - a part which has a smaller number of songs to sing but when they come around they take some breath control! Cook shone as Wednesday Addams a few months back and her talent shows no signs of stopping. THAT note in Legally Blonde Remix was hit beautifully and, frankly, if you pull that off then you've nailed the performance!

Talking of which, whilst I HATE to have favourites, tonights performance was completely OWNED by Heather Hadley.

From the moment she opened her mouth in 'Omigod You Guys' to the end of the final medley, she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Her confidence is blatant, her timing is exceptional and her understanding and bond with her character gives the audience absolute confidence that she knows who Elle is.

The role of Elle has such a strong connection to performers like Sheridan Smith and Lucie Jones it can be difficult to imagine anyone else stepping into her stilettos. However, for me, Hadley was easily on a par with those ladies this evening - in complete honesty, she was in my top three Elle's, hands down.

As well as being a confident and endearing actress, Hadley's vocals tonight were stunning. Her rendition of the shows title song was nothing short of breathtakingly poignant and she had the audience hanging on every word. It's rare to see a performer evoke as much solidarity to a character as Hadley does; during moments where Elle was beaten down I, and so many others in the auditorium, had to stop ourselves from running up on stage and giving her a hug! 

With so much of the show hanging on Elle, her performance of the character was nothing short of a masterclass and if she isn't leading West End companies in a few year's time then there's something very, very wrong.

All in all, Legally Blonde is one of the best shows on stage in the Black Country with an ensemble of exceptionally talented performers and creatives who prove why QBMTS, in all its guises, is one of the best we have

Go and see it - I defy you to stay sitting down and not invest yourself fully in a pacy, well rehearsed gem of a musical.

Legally Blonde plays at Stourbridge Town Hall until Saturday 23rd September. For more information and tickets, visit

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