production photo by Tristram Kenton
The producers of Legally Blonde The Musical played a long game with five weeks of previews to build a popular word-of-mouth and social media following - and a £2 million review-proof advance - before press night. Broadsheet critics today retaliated by reviewing the audience (really squealy girly escapees from Hairspray) as much as the show.
Processed, which is a good word, from the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie, LBTM follows vapid sorority girl Elle Woods as she, er, beavers her way into Harvard Law school to stalk her beau who wants someone ‘more serious’. Pink outfits and ditzy charm win the day as she outwits the opposing counsel in a court case. It’s not Inherit the Wind, but it is fun.
What makes the production at the Savoy more enjoyable, apart from a repetitive easy-to-hum score, is the presence of Sheridan Smith as Elle. Although convincingly Valley Girl in her accent, she has a grounded inner-Brit charm as the audience identify with her through Gavin and Stacey and Two Pints of Lager. Her engaging, tuneful and energetic performance carries you willingly and helplessly through the lightweight plot to the romantic clinch with - no not newly ‘bisexual’ Duncan James still playing a teen at pushing 35 - but the rather excellent Alex Gaumond.
She's also a thoroughly good sport, greeting dozens of punters in the rain or snow after every show and, in the case of your humble Londonist reporter, encouraging him to fondle her tits.
Now that's star quality.
Photo: Andrew Rogers courtesy of West End Whingers
Legally Blonde The Musical continues indefinitely at the Savoy Theatre with Sheridan Smith on contract until October. Evenings at 7.30, Thur and Sat at 2.30, Sunday at 3, no performances on Tuesdays. Tickets £20 to £62.50 and an eyewatering £90 for 'premium seats' but discounts abound so shop around especially midweek. Box Office 0870 164 8787.