Friday, August 23, 2019


Book by Heather Hach
Music & Lyrics by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O‘Keefe
Directed by Jim McMullen
Canberra Philharmonic Society, Erindale Theatre to 7 September

Reviewed by Len Power 22 August 2019

‘Legally Blonde’ tells a tall tale about a young woman, Elle Woods, who enrols to study law at Harvard University simply to be near the boyfriend who has just rejected her.  Of course, she finds her true vocation as a successful lawyer, defying the expectations of everyone around her.

On the surface, it plays tongue-in-cheek and a bit cartoonish, but the strength of the show is that underneath, real issues about life and relationships slowly emerge as the show progresses.  By the end of the show, we really care about Elle and her future.

Jim McMullan’s production has pace and energy throughout with colourful costumes and a strong cast.  In the enormous role of Elle Woods, Charlotte Gearside gives an expert, winning performance and is an accomplished singer.  She has good comic timing and is believable in the more serious aspects of her role.

Nick Valois sings well and brings a quiet strength and warmth to his role of law-teaching assistant, Emmett Forrest.  Patrick Galen-Mules is fine in the rather thankless role of the jilting boyfriend, Warner, and Ian Croker is nicely malevolent as Professor Callahan.

Hannah Maurice shines as the cynical hairdresser, Paulette, and her performance of the song, ‘Ireland’, is one of the highlights of the show.  Caitlin Schilg is memorable as Brooke, who leads the company in the skipping rope number, ‘Whipped Into Shape’, and Meaghan Stewart gives a well-rounded characterization as the tough student, Enid.  There is also fine work by the seven member Greek Chorus and everyone else plays the myriad of supporting roles very well.

Ian Croker’s complex and substantial set design is attractive and the many set changes were well-planned and executed.  Phil Goodwin’s lighting design added the right atmosphere to the show.  Choreography by Sarah Tulley was excellent and danced very well by the cast.

Conducted by Richard Daley, the orchestra played the score very well.  Sound balance between orchestra and singers was problematic with too much distortion of the vocals in the amplification, making the lyrics hard to hear clearly a lot of the time during the show.

Nevertheless, ‘Legally Blonde’ is a well-directed and well-acted show.  Audiences will find it hugely entertaining.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.