Having seen my fair share of student musicals, I’m always more than impressed by the extent to which amateur theatre groups are able to keep an overabundance of plates spinning in a professional manner. However, no production has achieved this to such a gratifying extent as SMS’s “Legally Blonde”. From an on-stage wardrobe change to the complimentary choreography of dancers, lights, and live music; Legally Blonde set itself up as an ambitious project from its opening moments and ultimately delivered on that ambitious promise with style and levity.
That’s not to say, however, that not a single plate sent spinning didn’t come crashing down. Despite the overall success of the piece, there were a couple of issues and missed beats that the cast and crew did very well in dealing with.
First and foremost, with the number of plates the team had spinning there were bound to be a couple of slip-ups. As such the odd mic falling off an actor’s face or minor character being drowned out by the live music could be excused in light of the production’s impressive spectacle.
Beyond the occasional nit-picks and minor slip-ups however, the cast and crew did a fantastic job in bringing this show to the student theatre scene in Leeds. The opening moments were a shaky cacophony of people drowning each other out as they didn’t quite sync up. But by the second song, everyone had found their rhythm and the production exploded into a voracious life.
As usual with the high-quality student musicals Leeds has been putting out recently, I found myself coming away impressed with the level of not only the acting on stage, but also of the singing. Saskia Connolly as Elle Woods deservedly hogged up her limelight spot delivering her lines with a dazzling charm and astute comedic timing, hitting impressive notes, and winning over the audience at almost breakneck speed from her character’s entrance.
But that’s not to say Saskia stole the show all on her own; the other cast members also delivered astounding performances. Olly Brindly as Professor Callahan, for example, delighted the audience with a dramatic entrance in his song “Blood in the Water” that perfectly set the tone for his character as harsh, overbearing, and extremely funny. Milly Parker and Amelia Hampton-Williams also gave stand-out performances as the endearing and hilarious Paulette and the cruel yet ultimately redeemed Vivienne respectively.
With so much the production team gave itself to potentially go wrong, the overall quality of the production was beyond impressive. Songs like “Bend and Snap” and “Gay or European?” had not just myself but the whole audience clutching their sides as the backing dancers gave an impressive (and at times seemingly-exhausting) show. After everything the most impressive aspect was not just the attention to detail the cast and crew had paid to the production, but also the way these small details were executed with professionalism and a whole load of jaunty fun. By the time the iconic lines “You got into Harvard”… “What, like it’s hard?” had been delivered the audience was already enwrapped.