Directed by Maxine McKay
Elle Woods appears to have all the fun in this fabulous award-winning musical. Based on the popular movie, Legally Blonde The Musical follows Elle in her battle against stereotypes to achieve her dreams.
After being dumped by her boyfriend Warner, as he leaves for Harvard Law, Elle uses her charm to get into the prestigious law school in an attempt to win him back. Although she doesn’t naturally fit in she overcomes her struggles with the support of her new friends and Greek chorus, to prove the world wrong.
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Warner Huntingdon III
Elle's Mum/Store Manager
Kate (Greek Chorus)/D.A Joyce Riley
Grand Master Chad/Padamadan/Carlos
Greek Chorus/Shop Assistant
Pforzheimer/Prison Guard/TV Reporter
Cheeky Llama Productions
Lighting & Sound Technicians
Dave & Kate Maltby
Friends of VAMPS
Cheeky Llama Productions
Ms Verney's Dresser
Artwork & Programme
Front of House Managers
Front of House Team
Members of VAMPS and St Neots Players
Author: Rob Bristow
It was a pleasure to be back at The Priory Centre in St Neots to watch VAMPS take on this new musical based on the comedy movie starring Reese Witherspoon. We had a warm welcome from the front of house team and received our programmes which are bright, well-designed and excellent quality. I was interested to read that Director, Maxine McKay and Choreographer, Kimberley Phillips-Arnott both made their VAMPS debuts with this production. I hope they both remain with VAMPS for some of the exciting projects they have planned for 2019.
The show opens at the Delta Nu sorority house as Elle prepares to get engaged to her boyfriend Warner. For those unfamiliar with the show the opening may have been a little confusing as there were only three saloon doors representing windows of the sorority house. Other than this the stage was blank. Also Serena, one of Elle’s three best friends had microphone issues and we missed most of the information she sings which sets up the plot of Elle and Warner.
Warner breaks up with Elle as he explains he needs a ‘serious’ girlfriend now that he’s off to study law at Harvard University. Elle sets about getting into Harvard Law in a bid to be the girl that Warner wants and win him back. During the course of the show, Elle makes true friends and falls in love with Emmett, leaving superficiality and Warner behind. It’s an uplifting comedy packed with girl-power.
As Warner, Gavin Apollo XI Manning had a decent voice and clearly had a good range but there were issues with timing in his songs. He seemed to struggle with the band in both Serious and the reprise of this number, but I could hear that he definitely has the notes and he played an arrogant wannabe well. There were noticeable issues with the band and I hope VAMPS manage to fix these for their forthcoming projects.
In “What you want” Elle sets about becoming Warner’s dream girl. This number had simple but energetic choreography by Kimberley Phillips-Arnott. Elle’s three friends, Serena, Pilar and Margot, played by Caroline Cleghorn, Emily Plattern and Melanie Hamilton were solid and it was nice to see matching cheerleader outfits here as much of the costuming up to this point looks like it has been provided by the cast.
We had a long period of Act I where the stage felt very stark, however once the cloth was drawn back to reveal the Harvard Law set things really improved. The set worked well for the venue and credit must go to Cheeky Llama Productions who ingeniously used set pieces to double up throughout the rest of the show. I really thought they had achieved something very clever here.
Having seen this show nearly a dozen times “The Harvard Variations” is usually my least favourite part of the show, however watching VAMPS’ production on Saturday night, this was the strongest number so far. Enid, Schultz and Padamadan played by Jo Hall, Adam Hutchings and Max Caldicott worked really well together. Their singing was strong, as were the characterisations.
Don McKay does a lovely job as Professor Callaghan with good presence and an air of superiority and command over the students. As Emmett Forrest, Sam Eggins does a fine job. Whilst initially coming across a little too light and fluffy to be a Harvard Law graduate, Sam shone in Act II and with his hair tied back and new suit on after “Take It Like A Man” he rose to leading man status for the rest of the show. Special mention must go to Sam for his vocals in “Chip On My Shoulder” which showed great power.
Charlotte Evans as zany stylist Paulette performs confidently and sings well. The characterisation possibly could have been taken further to get more comedy out of the role. For a comedic show, there was seldom much laughter in the audience, however this may also be due to sounds issues. A minor directional point but why was a girl with such long straight and dry hair sat under a dryer at the salon?
Act II was much stronger than Act I. Katy Hughes kicked it off with “Whipped Into Shape” which is a tough number physically and vocally. Well done to all the skippers, it can be tricky working with props but singing, dancing and skipping all at the same time is very hard so well done.
“Bend And Snap” is my favourite number in the show and it certainly looked like everyone in the company enjoyed it too. Serena, Pilar and Margot really delivered as the Greek chorus, supported by some well-executed choreography. I am not sure if this was the third or fourth number which Kimberley finished in the splits, but this was the best number in the show.
Legally Blonde’s main strength in this production by VAMPS was their featured ensemble. So many performers who shone in the smallest of roles and they really must be congratulated for doing great work: Sophie Collins as Vivienne has a great voice and did a super job with a hard sing in Legally Blonde Remix. George Kelly stood out at Elle’s Dad, excellent presence, accent and diction. Katie Kitson as Chutney gave a stellar performance in her short section towards the end of the show, demonstrating great character actress skills. There was strong characterisation again by Daniel Benning as Dewey, and I liked the work of Tom Monkhouse and Max Caldicott as Nikos and Carlos in “Gay or European” – this was a great number which finally got the audience laughing. Final special recognition must go to Adam Hutchings as the UPS delivery man and Paulette’s love interest, Kyle. His confident swagger and sex appeal oozed through The Priory Centre leaving Paulette, and others, hot under the collar!
Legally Blonde is the story of Elle Woods, and the evening really did belong to Emma Verney-Davies, Elle is a notoriously big sing, she is never really off stage and whilst she may initially appear ‘fluff’, the role of Elle Woods is gargantuan. It was a big ask and Emma constantly delivered and was consistent throughout. She deserved the huge applause she received.
And last, but certainly not least, enormous credit to Alfie and Opi as Rufus and Bruiser Woods, the dogs really were excellent!
Well done VAMPS on another fine performance.