Two years on from their pre-pandemic A Chorus Line, Music Theatre Warwick has made a triumphant return to the Warwick Arts Centre Theatre. Hilarious, energetic, and at times emotionally touching, this production of Legally Blonde was a smash-hit success. After such a long time, it was a wonderful way to mark MTW’s return to the main stage, providing a great evening of entertainment for all – especially now that the Warwick Arts Centre refurbishment is complete, accompanied by the swanky new Benugo Bar. On entering the venue, the sense that great performances are not only returning to Warwick but getting even better, was palpable. Knowing how long the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented and delayed student performances in the Arts Centre, it was amazing to see such a vivid and committed production, crafted by a cast and crew that truly deserved the standing ovation they received during the final bows.
She inhabited the role by being able to bring both comedy and emotional-depth to such a strong character
Great performances from the core cast meshed perfectly with a strong ensemble, bringing Harvard Law School and all of Legally Blonde’s eccentric characters to life. Obviously, Miss Legally Blonde herself – Elle Woods (Kate Prince) – is the focus of the show, as she attempts to win back her social-climbing boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Zach Roberts), challenging stereotypes and empowering herself in the process. Prince was on stage almost continuously during the show, tackling an incredibly demanding role (and 12 costume changes!) with ease. From the outset, she inhabited the role by being able to bring both comedy and emotional depth to such a strong character. Her solo “Legally Blonde” was especially touching, as Elle begins to question whether chasing Warner was worth it when admitting to teaching assistant, Emmett, (Louis Barrett) that she has feelings for him. Other honourable mentions should go to Barrett – who was able to perfectly play the script’s comedic moments and sang with a strong, clear tone – and to Roberts, who captured Warner’s smug and uncaring attitude really well. Roberts’ counterpart, Vivienne, played by Georgie Lagden, also gave a stand-out performance, matching flawless vocal technique with strong characterisation.
Undeniably, the choreography throughout was sharp and enthusiastic, matching the band’s energy
Jointly deserving of praise is the band, which delivered a punchy and tight performance of a challenging and varied score. Undeniably, the choreography throughout was sharp and enthusiastic, matching the band’s energy. During the song ‘Whipped into Shape’, this choreography was particularly evident, as the ensemble had to skip rope while dancing, and singing, and look like they were enjoying it all at once. Yet, even more praise goes to Lily Sitzia, who had to do all of the above, and then immediately act in her character of Brooke Wyndham – a fitness coach accused of killing her husband.
Glowing as this review is, there were unfortunately occasional technical issues, with mics sometimes not working which meant some lines were lost. Admirably, however, the cast ploughed on regardless, continuing with professionalism and commitment that greatly lessened the effect of these issues. Regrettable as these technical issues were, they didn’t take away at all from the final result. Live performances will inevitably involve some mishaps, which this cast and crew dealt with very well.
Nobody deserves more credit than the core production team
All-in-all, this was a wonderful production, which left me humming “Omigod You Guys” for days afterwards. Nobody deserves more credit than the core production team. The producers,Em Nicholson and Liv Baird, alongside directors, Ellie Stiles and Tara Noonan, had succeeded in the Herculean effort of putting on a show at such scale. Despite a pandemic-forced hiatus from the Warwick Arts Centre, MTW’s return truly was a spectacle to behold.