Le­gal jar­gon, dance num­bers and dogs

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS - KEL­LEY TANTAU

I walked into River­lea Theatre’s open­ing night of Legally Blonde al­ready a fan.

I’d seen the 2001 movie more than once, but was un­aware a mu­si­cal ver­sion fol­lowed six years later to pos­i­tive re­views.

I pre­dicted the en­ter­tain­ing plot line and com­i­cal di­a­logue would be a win­ner, but even those un­fa­mil­iar with the film or Broad­way show can find them­selves with a new favourite theatre per­for­mance.

Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods nav­i­gat­ing her way through Har­vard Law School for love.

River­lea’s mu­si­cal ver­sion starred Mad­die Hughes as its en­chant­ing lead, whose act­ing, singing and danc­ing make her a triple-threat.

But there were also stand-out per­for­mances from the en­sem­ble cast.

Emily Fo­den’s por­trayal of Paulette Bono­fonte, and es­pe­cially her goose­bump­wor­thy per­for­mance of Ire­land, was spec­tac­u­lar.

With the ac­cent, the clear and di­rect voice pro­jec­tion and in­fal­li­ble quirks, Fo­den was an as­set to the stage.

Alex Pel­ham-Waerea as Em­mett For­rest oozed geeky charm and pro­vided laughs, but he was more than just comic re­lief in se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tions.

He is no stranger to the stage - hav­ing starred in Hair­spray, Phantom of the Opera and Rent - which is no sur­prise as his voice, again, was mes­meris­ing.

The list could go on: Ben May­nard’s Warner Hunt­ing­ton III, Kirsty Young’s Vivi­enne Kens­ing­ton and Alissa Thompson’s Brooke Wyn­d­ham were de­light­ful to watch.

In fact, the cast of 33 all be­longed on stage, and the en­sem­ble dance num­bers were a high­light.

The sk­il­ful chore­og­ra­phy by Shanelle Bor­lase was ev­i­dent in Whipped Into Shape, and the catchy What You Want.

Also highly im­pres­sive was Mel Martin’s di­rec­tion.

With a pref­er­ence to dark and dra­matic pro­duc­tions, Martin ad­mit­ted Legally Blonde was a chal­lenge from the op­po­site end of the spec­trum.

But I do not think Martin should shy away from bright and bub­bly shows in the fu­ture, as they are clearly in her forte.

Fans of Elle Woods - meet Elle Woods in mu­si­cal form.

River­lea Theatre’s Legally Blonde The Mu­si­cal can be seen un­til June 3. To pur­chase tick­ets, phone 0800 800 192 or visit iticket.co.nz

Emily Fo­den, Mad­die Hughes and Alex Pel­ham-Waerea were bril­liantly cast.

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