SLAMS’ recent iteration of Legally Blonde was generally very strong. One of my beefs about seeing a show is lack of parking. This was a non-issue at Billanook College’s Alan Ross Centre. I hadn’t been to this venue before – really nicely set up! Upon entry to the auditorium, we sat towards the back. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house when it comes to sightlines.
SLAMS has borrowed heavily from the pro version of the show, which is nearly always a smart thing to do, where facilities and budget allow. Two areas which really showed this are Miranda Guthrie-Jones’ wonderful choreography, and Brenton Van Vliet’s lighting design. Unfortunately, where we were sitting, we came upon three significant lighting issues: The MD’s video monitor was visible from the audience – quite distracting from the action on stage; The follow spots were often very tight, which amplifies any instability of the movement; and The LED lighting around the proscenium is really effective, unless you’re seated in the back half-dozen rows, where the silhouette of the lighting bar in front of it breaks the continuity of the LEDs. We initially thought that there was an outage in some of the top strip. Perhaps creating a false top of the proscenium might have alleviated the issue.
Musically, the band was smokin’ – Phill Scanlon’s Musical direction was really tight. The sound presented a bit of an issue immediately – sounded very tinny. The lack of low end in the auditorium (and I’m assuming on stage) was quite uncomfortable. Given that the score is jam-packed with key changes, a clear low end really assists singers with their intonation. This provided a hiccup in a few numbers like Blood In The Water, where the ensemble singing was a bit loose. Balance between voice and band also posed a problem in the first act, but improved significantly towards the second act. Once I got over my inner-whinger, I loved the show. Joel Batalha and Miquette Abercrombie’s costuming was insanely good – the show demands a massive array of changes. The set was clever – effective in its simplicity, and the smooth set changes were an asset to the show.
Ok, the performers: it’s simple. There was not a poor performer that set foot on the stage. Our heroine of the story, Elle Woods, showed Lauren Edwards to be a killer of a triple threat. Her vocal stability, control and range were excellent. Brenton Van Vliet wore many hats in the behind the scenes production of this show, but when he was on stage as Emmett, his performance was rock-solid. Emmett is one of my favourite characters in Legally Blonde, and I loved his portrayal. His singing, acting and the chemistry with Elle was a real highlight. The ensemble was incredibly strong and versatile, and showed evidence of much dedicated rehearsal. Paulette, played by Janette Diab, showed very strong movement, acting and vocal control. Our two canine mates, Cleo and Pal, were suitably adorable, and achieved much loving and patting in the foyer after the show. Legally Blonde features many parts, including cameos. Again, not one dodgy performance in this show.
Two actors deserve special attention: JD Ness played Kyle the UPS guy with some serious aplomb. His capacity for comedic timing is awesome. Apparently, his package is up for a Tony. The star of the show for me was an ensemble member: Colin Hartley. Colin was insanely awesome – he rapped, skipped, danced and even gave a magnificent haircut. Keep an eye out for JD and Colin!
Legally Blonde is playing until 28 March – go see it!