We sang, swayed and tapped our feet, we cheered and clapped, gasped and smiled, and then we stood to give a much deserved standing ovation to the young cast of Legally Blonde. It was a joyous, fun, emotional and uplifting night.
Unashamedly pink, camp and glossy, no stone was left unturned in MYCO’s exuberant and over-the-top production at Oxford Playhouse, and we delighted in the costumes, set and choreography. And while a hugely applauded team effort, the talent of the lead Lily Butler, who plays unlikely feminist Elle, was quite jaw-dropping.
Lily wouldn’t be out of place on the West End stage and MYCO must have rubbed their hands in glee when they first heard her voice, which enraptured us all from the first to the last notes.
The well known story depicts fashionista Elle who follows her boyfriend to Harvard Law School, encountering prejudice at every turn, but stays true to herself and proves her worth both in and out of court. Said boyfriend Warner (Max Wappner) proves to be a no-good, double-crossing, snob, but Elle moves on, choosing her friends carefully and triumphing in the end.
How producer Guy Brigg managed to ensure all the cast were all on stage for the big musical numbers, and managed to shine, is another story, but the hugely gifted 12-19 year-olds he works with all got their moment in the sun.
The humour was also delightful, favourite number ‘Gay or European’ reducing the audience to hysterics, as did UPS driver Kyle (Sam Blake) and his biggest admirer the hugely enjoyable Paulette (Freya Dobson). The athletic and potentially criminal Brooke Wytham (Hannah Bates) also shone bright as did the corduroy clad Emmett (Mason Chandler-Wickens) who becomes Elle’s biggest champion. Dog lovers will be enchanted by the triage of delights who come in the form of Ted (Bruiser) and Rufus (Willow and Monty).
I dare you not to enjoy Legally Blonde. Yes, it’s a bit sugary, but who doesn’t need a bit of glitter, music and dancing after the bleakest few years. If nothing else this is a wonderful reminder of the abounding talent of our young people.
Following Covid-induced cancellations of their previous show Chess, Creative Director of the Musical Youth Company of Oxford (MYCO), Guy Brigg MBE, made the difficult decision to start afresh. What better performance to do so with than perhaps its complete antithesis, Legally Blonde?
Admittedly, Legally Blonde for me is one of those films I watch out of nostalgia while deciding to look past the undoubtedly outdated trope of the girl who uproots her life for a rich man. This performance, however, totally rejuvenated the original, breathing new life into the story and hurling it into the modern-day, with a Kim K reference inserted for good measure.
16-year-old Lily Butler dominated the stage with her feisty and bold portrayal of Elle Woods. Her flawless comedic timing paired with an exceptionally strong voice played a vital role in transforming what could have been the ditsy blonde character, into the defiant and headstrong woman we saw on stage.
Butler’s co-stars Freya Dobson (Paulette), Mason Chandler-Wickens, (Emmett) and Max Wappner (Warner) also embodied their roles, with Warner being the perfect amount of hateable – and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The extensive ensemble of 48 energetic cast members (+2 doggos) – while at times looked as though they were running out of stage space – executed Dan North’s choreography superbly, maintaining their energy and enthusiasm throughout. It was a joy to see such a diverse cast; another welcome contrast to that of the film.
Aside from the occasional difficult-to-hear line, the performance was seamless. MYCO’s energy and commitment was evident throughout, creating an uplifting and feel-good show. I strongly suggest bending and snapping up some tickets (I hate myself) for this performance, in Oxford until Saturday 16 April – this is not to be missed.
Now to resist temptation and leave a socially acceptable amount of time before re-watching the film – I’m giving myself until this evening.