Legally Blonde

August 3, 2019 | By | 1 Reply More

All Edinburgh Theatre’s young writers scheme returns

This Fringe, All Edinburgh Theatre is proud to announce that four young writers are joining the team as our mentoring scheme returns.

This year we are working with Ruth Hollyman at youth theatre Strangetown. Four of their young actors – Amy Quinn, Iskra Hearn, Layza Venancio Mirhadi and Suzanne O’Brien – will be taking the understanding of theatre they have learned from performance and applying it to a critical stance from the other side of the footlights.

Before the fringe, our first outing was to see the Beyond Broadway Experience’s production of Legally Blonde at the Edinburgh King’s. Here are the first two reviews filed by Amy Quinn and Iskra Hearn. The reviews from Layza Venancio Mirhadi and Suzanne O’Brien are on the next page.

★★★★☆    Full of Sass

Review by Amy Quinn

Over 160 young people have come together under the Beyond Broadway Experience to produce an energetic, bold and hilarious rendition of Legally Blonde: The Musical which is based on the 2001 film that stars Reese Witherspoon.

Every single one of these performers (and two dogs) put their all into this show and despite nerves possibly getting the better of a few, this show just gets better and better as it goes on.

Lori Davidson as Elle and the cast. Pic AJG Photography

Legally Blonde is an American comedy that explores the problems surrounding stereotypes, love and law that the leading character, Elle Woods, deals with.

Lori Davidson, takes on this main role and she is a perfect fit as she brings stable vocals, a funny personality and a consistent American accent to the role.

Elle is your stereotypical Californian ‘dumb blonde’ who defies all norms when she gets into Harvard Law School despite being a fashionista who appears to be in no way an intellectual. She is helped along the way by her Greek chorus and the scruffy yet charming Emmett Forrest, who Fraser McAdam fits well with his kind tone and believable acting.

The audience follows Elle as she learns about law, with the help of Emmett, to become as knowledgeable as her classmates. She exceeds expectations and gets and gets an internship with her frightening and judgemental professor, Professor Callahan. Elle proves everyone wrong and becomes the most successful lawyer within the group in her internship, but she of course has many embarrassments, barriers and choices to face.

The plot is simple, however, at times it is difficult to establish character’s names and to hear conversations and lyrics due to mildly muffled voices and loud brass instruments, meaning it could sometimes be easy to become lost.

intricate and risky choreography

What makes up for this is the brilliant facial expressions, comedic timing and audience engagement delivered by every cast member that makes characters loveable, such as Paulette played by Clare Wootton, or hateable, such as Taylor Williams as Professor Callahan whose aggressive tone and stance made him just as intimidating and creepy as he needs to be without being over the top.

Some of the Legally Blonde cast. Pic AJG Photography

A key feature of this production that makes it so memorable is the neat execution of the intricate and risky choreography created by Murray Grant, Louise Ferrier and guest choreographer Nikki Snelson. Their choreography helps to tell the story and is impressive due to its complexity (especially when skipping ropes are involved) and is effectively coordinated for such a large company.

The director, Drew Gowland, has done an incredible job with this large cast as chorus members were incorporated wherever they could be so everyone had the chance to have a shining moment, such as comical background characters or the setting itself. The number of members means that it could become a squeeze on stage. In a clever move, chorus members perform in the boxes as well which is an immersive and pleasant shock when they pop up.

Even if it’s a bit rough around the edges at times, this production is highly enjoyable and without a dull moment. It is heartwarming to see amazingly talented young people have the opportunity to follow their passion and have so much fun on stage and everybody involved should ‘bend and snap’ and give themselves a pat on the back.

Watching Elle cope with her feelings and challenges is hysterically amusing and emotional and the accompaniment of strong vocals, dance and acting skills show that there is hope for the future of musical theatre.

★★★★☆    Fun and Energetic

Review by Iskra Hearn

Legally Blonde, which given an upbeat performance at the Kings Theatre from the Beyond Broadway experience, starts and ends with a bang. Literally.

The story is based on the novel and film of the same name and follows Elle (Lori Davidson), a blonde Californian UCLA graduate as she attends Harvard Law school in hopes of winning back her ex-boyfriend. However things don’t go to plan and Elle discovers a lot about herself and the people around her whilst she’s there.

Cora Irskine, Imogen Hoppe, Eilidh MacDonald, Freya Purdie and Eilidh Murray. Pic AJG Photography

The show starts with an upbeat and flashy number Omigod You Guys which sets the tone for the rest of the production and introduces Lori Davidson whose acting and singing is thoroughly impressive. Davidson is natural and endearing as Elle and succeeds in bringing the blonde law student to life on stage. Her comedic timing combined with the funny script makes the show full of laughs and she is undoubtably a stellar young performer.

All of the principle cast are able performers and successfully portray their characters, especially Emmet Forrest (Fraser McAdam) Elle’s teaching assistant and friend who helps her with her realise what’s important to her, and Professor Callahan (Taylor Williams) Elle’s intimidating Law Professor.

McAdam’s acting gives Emmet the kind, underdog feeling that makes it almost impossible not to root for him whilst Williams expertly embodies the role of the aggressive, sleazy professor. Both also show off their vocal talent with impressive voices during their numbers.

Other stand-out performers include Eilidh Macdonald, Cora Erskine and Freya Purdie as Elle’s sorority sisters who show up to lift her spirits when she’s in crisis. This Greek chorus bring fun and excitement whenever they are on stage and carry the upbeat energy from the opening number to the finale. Paulette (Clare Wootton) is another talented singer with a passionate voice which is shown off in her solo numbers.

During the big, more physical numbers such as, What You Want, Whipped Into Shape and There, Right There the large chorus of around 130 members are used well to help set the scene and are given complex routines by choreographers Murray Grant and Louise Ferrier and guest choreographer Nikki Snelson (who was in the original Broadway show) that allow them to shine and showcase their talent.

Complex and atmospheric staging. Pic AJG Photography

The production is very elaborate for a youth production. The set, lighting, props and costume used to create and help identify certain locations are intricate and effective in bringing the scenes to life, whether it be in Elle’s bedroom, a courtroom, or a department store. Despite the detailed set and props the scene changes are surprisingly still smooth and fast and there is little dead space on stage.

Director Drew Gowland has chosen to place chorus members in the boxes and aisles throughout the show which succeeds in setting the desired atmosphere and adding to the action on stage. It also allows everyone to be ‘on-stage’ at once which shows the impressively large number of cast members.

Two real dogs are used during the performance, a chihuahua and a boxer. On the whole this works well and the dogs are well trained. However the boxer was occasionally distracted by the audience, which didn’t cause too much trouble but did distract from the action at times.

Although the performances are generally strong and enjoyable, improvements could be made to the accents. Elle and Emmet’s accents are convincing and steady throughout however some of the others are less constant and slip up a few times.

Another weaker aspect is the blocking for certain scenes. During some numbers the stage looks busy and crowded which makes it difficult for everyone to be in sync and leaves the audience confused what to focus on.

The finale is full of energy and feels like a perfect end to the show. Throughout the performance it is obvious that the cast are putting all their effort in whilst still enjoying themselves and having fun, which makes the show more entertaining to watch. They didn’t go out quietly; the end is marked with fireworks and confetti falling on the audience.

Overall the show is entertaining and enjoyable, and showcases the talent of many young performers, particularly Lori Davidson. Improvements could be made with more time, but the show still succeeds in being a fun and lively musical production well worth the watch.

Running time: Two hours and 35 minutes (including one interval)
King’s Theatre 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000
Thursday 18 – Saturday 20 July 2019
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinees Fri: 3pm & Sat: 2.30pm.

All Edinburgh Theatre would like to the Beyond Broadway Experience and Strangetown for their support of this scheme.

The reviews from Layza Venancio Mirhadi and Suzanne O’Brien are on the next page here.

ENDS

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  1. Legally Blonde Again : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | August 3, 2019

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