Upbeat, quirky fun: SMuTS presents ‘Legally Blonde the Musical’
The musical is running until Saturday
Last night was the opening performance of Sussex Musical Theatre Society's production of 'Legally Blonde the Musical', adapted from the 2001 cult classic movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
Showing in the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, SMuTS have used simple yet effective staging to capture the key locations without detracting from the cast; all the while keeping the production's biggest stars, the band, in clear view.
Following the story of Malibu party girl, Elle Woods, as she enrols herself at Harvard Law School ("what like its hard?!") in hopes of winning back her recently-ex-college boyfriend, Legally Blonde the Musical has all the charm and wit of the original story whilst simultaneously injecting new life through catchy songs and impressive choreography. The musical, with music and lyrics written by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, made its broadway debut in 2007, becoming an instant success.
The production, directed by Jack Evans, truly came in to its own thanks to the strong ensemble, fantastic live music, and exceptional performance by lead Emily Di-Silvestro. Other standouts include Helena MacCormack as Paulette, and Niven Willett as Emmett.
Di-Silvestro is perfectly cast, embodying the charm and drive of Elle, while remaining a vocal powerhouse, meaning all attention was on her during each of her scenes. MacCormack demonstrates her worth opposite Di-Silvestro's Elle, more often than not proving to be equally magnetic and strong with her vocals. Willett's performance as the bookish, coming-of-age Emmett is clearly a role the actor is familiar with, delivering both his lines and musical numbers with heart and unwavering convincingness.
Special mention also needs to be given to the band, who provide amazing accompaniment to the actors, executing the complex music note-perfect. They also expertly helped bridge a suspiciously long blackout between scenes in the second act.
Lastly, it would be unjust to not commend the canine talent, Baby and Bertie, who garnered the strongest reactions by far of any of the talent on stage.
Unfortunately, last night's show was affected by a few technical difficulties, and the odd unconvincing American accent. The most notable fault being the microphones, often not switched on in time to catch the first words spoken by some actors. This led to certain lines being lost, and some of the musical numbers not sounding as balanced as they should. Whilst not major, it was a shame not to see the production at the level it could be at, showcasing the countless hours of hard work that have evidently gone into it.
Despite the technical issues, the overall mood of the musical never failed to drop, remaining fun and engaging throughout. The earworm opening number is guaranteed to have you singing 'Omigod you guys' at every opportunity, and the seriously impressive numbers choreographed by Rachel Morrison with cheerleading and jump-ropes are sure to impress.
Overall, I can't recommend going to see the show enough. It's clear SMuTS have pooled the most talented students Sussex has to offer to produce a show that is a testament to their hard work and talent!
With tickets already selling fast, book now to avoid missing out by clicking here
Photos courtesy of Malcolm Tam