Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a revival of the musical Legally Blonde, based on the 2001 novel by Amanda Brown and the 2007 movie starring Reese Witherspoon. While the musical has enjoyed two UK tours, this latest production marks its return to London after a decade.
The story follows Elle Woods, who enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. The plot thickens when she gets involved in a high-profile murder trial, leading to a tale of character growth and empowerment. This new production, directed by Lucy Moss, features updated references and a modern setting, but still retains the classic elements.
The standout feature of this production is the phenomenal cast, led by the always wonderful Courtney Bowman as Elle Woods. Her portrayal is sensational, showcasing her immense talents with a performance that is both comic and captivating, full of heart and hilarity. Nadine Higgin commands the stage as Paulette, delivering some of the highlights of the evening with her impeccable comedic timing and powerful vocals. Lauren Drew gives a gobsmacking performance as Brooke, delivering the complex choreography of “Whipped Into Shape” flawlessly.
The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Michael Ahomka-Lindsay as Emmett, Alistair Toovey as Warner, Vanessa Fisher as Vivienne, and Isaac Hesketh, Hannah Yun Chamberlain, and Grace Mouat as Margot, Serena, and Pilar. The incredible ensemble ensures every inch of the stage bursts with talent.
The music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe are contemporary and upbeat, with numbers such as “OmiGod you guys” and “So Much Better” providing undoubted highlights. The choreography by Ellen Kane is genius, taking the performances to a new level of brilliance.
While the set design by Laura Hopkins is odd, the lighting by Philip Gladwell illuminates the stage beautifully, including an inspired rainbow light in a pivotal moment. The costumes are pleasant enough, though not as spectacular as one might hope for someone as fashion-forward as Elle Woods.
Overall, this production offers a refreshing take on an already fantastic show, with room for improvement in certain design elements. The joyous and unashamedly camp production of Legally Blonde is the perfect tonic if you’re in need of a pick-me-up and is possibly the most fun you’ll have in a theatre all summer.