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Theatre Review: Legally Blonde @ University of Birmingham

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If you didn't already know, Legally Blonde is a great musical, and a fantastic choice for the University of Birmingham Guild Musical Theatre Group's term 1 production.

Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin's music and lyrics hit the spot, and their rhymes caused uproarious laughter on more than a few occasions. But what makes this particular show special is all the talent that went into it, on and off the stage.

Images courtesy of Esther Clemmey from Clemmography

Emily Taylor is outstandingly good as Elle Woods, the sorority girl who follows her ex to Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back. Both her American accent and singing were excellent, and her dancing was up to par with the members of the ensemble who were cast specifically for their dance abilities. In addition to this, her facial expressiveness really sold the role, and the effort she put into every aspect of her performance kept the show’s momentum going.

Another standout is Jacob Marshall as Emmett. With a singer as good as Taylor starring as the protagonist, she could have potentially outclassed the other leads, but Marshall stepped up to the plate and wowed the audience with his abilities. What’s more, he has a real knack for portraying the emotions of the dialogue in his voice, keeping this up even whilst belting out a particularly impressive note. The casting for this show was really spot on.

Moving onto the less major characters, Helen Parsons deserves recognition for her role as Paulette, masterfully towing the line between comedic relief and character development. There were several moments when the jokey tone of her performance transformed into something more - when she really got a chance to shine, she proved herself to be a real powerhouse. Rob Russo as Professor Callaghan and Lizzy Ives as Serena (or 1/3 of Elle’s greek chorus) were also wonderful in their roles.

Images courtesy of Esther Clemmey from Clemmography

Considering she had a lot of styles to tackle, Lauren Shirley did a fantastic job with the show's choreography, including examples of everything from a cheer routine to tap dancing. 'Whipped into Shape' was a particularly exceptional sequence, and I won't spoil the specifics (as you really should see this show if you can), but it'll keep you on the edge of your seat. The lack of injuries by the end is a real feat!

The staging was highly imaginative - with the greek chorus angelically rising from beyond the gauze upon first introduction, and popping up from behind set-pieces in various future scenes. Some of the transitions were understandably a bit slow, due to the amount of props and scenery that required moving - the courtroom scenes in particular were quite hectic - but they were pretty seamless for the most part. For a show with so many elements to juggle, they held it together remarkably well!

In conclusion, I would highly recommend that anyone based in Birmingham should head to the Guild of Students at UoB for a sparkling production full of stars-to-be, featuring excellent song and dance numbers as well as emotion-stirring acting. Well worth the price of a ticket.

Legally Blonde is running till Saturday 1st December in the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students building. More information about the production can be found via GMTG’s facebook page, and tickets can be directly purchased here.

If you liked this article, read this review of last year’s GMTG show, Made in Dagenham.

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