This show is one of my all time favourite guilty pleasures having seen it five times already at the Wolverhampton Grand, Aberystwyth Arts and Leicester Curve. So my expectations were at their highest before I even arrived but boy, Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre really stood up to the challenge.
Nowadays, amateur theatre has reached a level that can rival the production values of any professional show but they can sometimes lack in one key area, talent. But this fine ensemble of young performers are full of it.
The story follows an identical path to the film of the same title but is filled with an irresistible new score. If you haven’t seen either the musical or the film, I’m not going to tell you the story – go and find out for yourselves and I promise you wont look back.
The shows lead, Elle Woods, is a role that is incredibly difficult to cast as the actress needs to fit the stereotypical blonde look, have bags full of charisma, as well as carrying the entire production with a completely polished triple threat of acting, singing and dancing. Sophie-Rose Dickinson was the chosen one for this production and what a choice she is, nothing short of superb. She commands the stage from the moment she steps on and has the audience tightly gripped throughout with complicated dance formations (in heels!), big ballads that were note perfect, all without hardly leaving the stage. This young lady made the part her own and was ‘so much better’ than Lucie Jones in the recent Leicester Curve professional production.
Georgia Waldron flawlessly delivered the comedy role of Paulette with a faultess accent. Nathan De Giorgi is the knight in shining armor, Emmett, and did eventually grow on me after a bit of a shaky start. Despite this, the duet section in ‘Legally Blonde’ is a moment to be justifiably proud about. Warner, Elle’s original partner, is played by Dominic Sterland whose voice is of a very high standard and his timing with the delivery of lines is spot on.
Professor Callaghan was excellently portrayed by Harry Bayliss despite the odd timing issue with the band. His characterisation was easily believable and did justice for what can sometimes be a dreary song, ‘Blood in the Water’. Sophia Ford as Vivienne was incredibly impressive with a vocal range that could rival any star.
Particular shout out to Ella Fellows-Moore who somehow managed to belt out a big number whilst skipping to difficult choreography throughout. This role could frighten any of the natural professionals away but she made it seem effortless and easy, bravo!
For me, the strongest of the cast were the larger group of the ‘Delta Nu’s’. Not one member looked out of place yet each individual brought something different to the collection. It’s refreshing to see a chorus who were all giving it there all and at no point did anyone drop the energy levels. Additional highlight must go to Esme Wade who has a unique vocal sound that was, in my opinion, the strongest of the night. Along with an excellent American accent.
The vast scenery from Scenic Projects filled the small Garrick stage rather quickly with each scene and it was wonderful to see them utilise it all to its full potential. I know first hand just how tight the wings of the Garrick are so top marks to the team behind making it all fit and flow so seemingly. My only disappointment was the lighting, which was poorly designed and gave the impression that it hadn’t been thoroughly thought about, and then the sound which seems to be a continuing issue within amateur theatre.
This production boasts an immensely gifted cast and pumps a new breathe of fresh air into a show that is lighthearted and fun. An absolute treat. If I was given the choice of seeing this production or the professional Curve production, I would undoubtedly pick this one.
★★★★ An immensely gifted cast in an absolute treat of a show.
For tickets to Legally Blonde visit lichfieldgarrick.com/Legally-Blonde.
To all the Cast and Crew, A huge congratulations on a show that you should ALL be proud about. Enjoy the rest of the run and I cannot wait for Rock Of Ages! ^Joe.