Legally Blonde Is Just The Most Fun

Legally Blonde is a fabulous film, and Elle Woods is a modern heroine, but this does not always mean a great show when it comes to theatre versions (for instance, I hate Saturday Night Fever on the stage). But, fear not, fans of all things pink and surprisingly feminist, Legally Blonde the musical is just brilliant. Yes it is frothy and bubbly and totally, totally pink. But Elle is a real modern heroine, one who may have the face and look of a Barbie doll, but also has a brain, wit and determination to succeed. And succeed she does, without compromising just who she is. It is a great musical, thorough entertainment with a strident message at its heart.

Elle Woods is the golden girl, a sort of Malibu Barbie with a pink wardrobe to die for and a suitably ‘Ken’ boyfriend in Warner Huntington lll. Elle thinks he is going to propose to her when he takes her to a rather swish restaurant, but instead he breaks up with her, telling her that he is going to Harvard to study law, and that he needs a serious girlfriend ‘a Jackie not a Marilyn’. Devastated, Elle decides that she will also go to Harvard to win him back, and manages to get in thanks to a great average and an hilarious personal statement (think cheerleaders, cupids on skates etc). Elle gets to Harvard and is in the class of Professor Callahan with Warner in the same class. But Warner has found his ‘Jackie’ is the shape of Vivienne Kensington, who instantly dislikes the seemingly fluffy Elle and her lack of commitment to learning about law. Luckily Elle makes two friends, Emmett Forrest, and older student who helps her to get serious about her learning, and Paulette Bonafonte, a hairdresser who teaches Elle that beauty of staying true to her blonde roots. When Callahan takes on four students to help fight a murder case, Elle is one of them. But will she prove to be a ‘legally blonde’ and will she have to lose who she is in order to succeed?

Lucie Jones is fabulous – she is Elle Woods and her excellent soaring vocals help her to steal every scene. She plays Elle as idealistic and frankly adorable – one of the things I love about this character is that she actually is nice, inside and out, no edges.no malice and no bitchiness. Lucie conveys all this and more, and is a central character who simply shiines like a star.

Rita Simons, the brash Roxy Mitchell from Eastenders, is also fabulous as Paulette. Her comic timing is impeccable and she makes Paulette a sympathetic character who you are totally supporting, especially in the hilarious scenes with the UPS man Kyle (Ben Harlow – a hoot!). Rita has a gutsy singing voice and performs her numbers with aplomb, and as for the Riverdance (don’t ask), I’m still laughing.

Bill Ward is another standout as the smarmy Professor Callahan. His performance seems very timely in our current political and the Hollywood climate, and he makes Professor Callahan thoroughly unlikable and morally corrupt. He’s great.

The supporting cast is also sound with David Barrett as Emmet and Laura Harrison as Vivienne providing great support, and the Greek chorus of Elle’s friends are great fun too.

Legally Blonde is one of those experiences that leave you walking out of the theatre with a huge smile on your face and a warm glow. It is brilliant entertainment, perfect for a girl’s night out.

Legally Blonde

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Thurs 9th – Saturday 11th November

Click here for ticket details

 

Five Minutes with the Fabulous Doreen Tipton

Doreen Tipton is a legend in her own lifetime. The first person in the United Kingdom to be diagnosed with ‘Lazy Cow Syndrome’, this awful disability hasn’t stopped Doreen from becoming an icon, first in her beloved Black Country, and now on the way to conquering the world. Ahead of this year’s Wolverhampton Grand pantomime, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, I had a chat with Doreen at the stunning Mount Hotel. Unfortunately, Doreen was feeling a little tired, probably as a result of lazy cow syndrome, and so she had a little rest in bed. Nevertheless, I spoke to Doreen (and her ultra-ego Gill Jordan) about this year”s panto, and life in general.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK – PANTO – GRAND WVH
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk Panto photo-call
Picture by Adam Fradgley

Fashion-Mommy: Last year you played the Lazy Empress in Aladdin, tell me about your character this year, is it true you’re playing yourself?

Doreen: Sort of. This year I’m playing Dame Trott’s lazy next door neighbour, who happens to be called Doreen.

FM: Do you get recognised out of character?

DT: I never get recognised out of character. When I’m Doreen people shout to me in the street, come over to me and often act as if we were life long friends, which is really lovely. I hardly ever do interviews as Gill. I think people want to believe that Doreen is real.

FM: What is the reaction to Doreen outside of the Midlands?

DT: I think it is more to do with humour than geography – you either get Doreen or you don’t. It’s about being on that particular wavelength, a little bit like Monty Python, lots of people don’t get it, but others love it. What I find interesting is that the audience spans right across the age groups, from young kids to 90 year olds.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK – PANTO – GRAND WVH
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk Panto photo-call
Picture by Adam Fradgley

FM: Why do you think you appeal to the young?

DT: I think personally the young find me funny for the same reason’s they find their parents or grandparents funny, they recognise the same sort of humour that they see in their own older relatives.

FM: Is Doreen based on anyone in particular?

DT: No, not any one person, but more a generalisation from lots of different people. But lots of people recognise Doreen as someone they know.

FM: You’ve returned to the Grand Theatre for this year’s panto – why was that?

DT: I had such a fantastic time last year, everything was perfect, the cast, the backstage staff,and the Grand is such a wonderful theatre. I just couldn’t resist!

FM: Is there any particular character in pantomime that you would love to play?

DT: (in a big, booming voice) Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all. I would love to play the Wicked Queen from Snow White, a vicious queen.

FM: How did you persuade Robert Plant to be in your movie?

DT: I know, I still pinch myself about that. I think the best answer is that I am a big fan of Robert, and Robert is a fan of Doreen’s. It was amazing!

Sat 9 Dec – Sun 14 Jan

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

Wolverhampton Grand, click here for ticket information.

The Wedding Singer is a Joy at Wolverhampton Grand

I really should start this review with a disclaimer. I absolutely love the movie version of ‘The Wedding Singer.’ I love it as a love letter to the 1980s, it’s use of fashion and music, and the superb cast, Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Billy Idol and the rappiing granny. So as much as I was looking forward to the musical theatre version which is currently at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, there was some sense of trepidation. I needn’t have worried. The Wedding Singer is just glorious, the ultimate feel good night out that has music, comedy and a lovely warm centre,

It’s 1985 and Robbie Hart is a wedding singer, part of a group with his best friends Sammy and George who provide music at nuptials. Robbie is looking forward to his own upcoming wedding to Linda. But when Linda leaves him a ‘Dear John’ letter and literally jilts him at the alter, Robbie’s life falls apart. But support is forthcoming from the lovely Julia, a waitress at many of the weddings he plays at, and the pair start to fall in love. Unfortunately Julia is engaged to the rather odious Wall Street dealer Glen Gulia, and so it seems that the perfectly matched couple will never get together.

There is so much to love about The Wedding Singer. The performances are a joy, with the whole cast just perfect in their roles. Jon Robyns is fantastic as Robbie, warm and funny in his happier times, and frankly hilarious when he loses it during ‘Somebody Kill Me.’ He has a wonderful chemistry with Cassie Compton as Julia, and Cassie herself is just lovely as Julia, sweet and charming throughout. Ray Quinn is a great bad guy as Glen Gulia, and his performance of ‘All about the Green’ is another highlight, whilst the veteran Ruth Madoc is frankly hysterical, I don’t think I will ever get over the sight of Ruth rapping and dabbing.

The supporting cast are also brilliant, with Ashley Emerson (Sammy), Samuel Holmes (George) and Madonna-alike Stephanie Clift (Holly) all stealing scenes and looking like they are totally enjoying themselves. And mention must be made of the numerous supporting roles played by Mark Pearce. Each characterisation he made was memorable and superb, from the bitter drunk brother giving a wedding speech, to the barfly extolling the single life in the ‘Single’ bar scene.

The Wedding Singer nods its head towards 1980s pop culture in so many wonderful ways, from the choreography in the ‘Casulty of Love’ scene with echoes of Thriller, to the priceless ‘Single’ bar scene that could be from an episode of Cheers, with the ‘Single’ song as its theme tune. Combined with the likes of Tina Turner, Mr T and, of course, Billy Idol appearing in those final scenes, and you have a musical that is a real tribute to all that was good about the 1980s (and in the Wall Street scenes with Ray, all that was bad about the decade of greed.)

Funny, feel good and with a fabulous cast, The Wedding Singer is not to be missed. I loved it from start to finish.

Thu 5 Oct – Sat 7 Oct

THE WEDDING SINGER

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Click here for ticket information