Legally Blonde: huge fun celebration of pop culture and diversity

Courtney Bowman as Elle and Ensemble in Legally Blonde at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Courtney Bowman as Elle and Ensemble in Legally Blonde at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - Credit: Pamela Raith

Legally Blonde the Musical

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

****

Kicking off Regent's Park's 90th birthday season, this slick, hugely fun bubblegum confection is a shameless celebration of pop culture that makes a virtue of its frivolity.

Based on the 2001 film, Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin's 2010 musical has been smartly updated with references to Instagram, the Kardashians and taking selfies on sparkly smart phones.

Even if pink is not your colour, you'll be rooting for Courtney Bowman's big-hearted, irrepressible Malibu fashion princess Elle, who is dumped by shallow boyfriend Warner for lack of seriousness. Following him to Harvard Law School to get him back, she discovers a razor sharp legal mind, aces a murder trial, and wins over everyone except her predatory Professor.

Nadine Higgin as Paulette in Legally Blonde at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Nadine Higgin as Paulette in Legally Blonde at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - Credit: Pamela Raith

Director Lucy Moss, co-creator of the musical Six, extends the 'don't judge a book by its cover' theme to a celebratory diverse cast in body shape, gender and heritage, who collectively crack out some brilliant dance moves courtesy of choreographer Ellen Kane.

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Even Elle's eye-rolling dog gets in on the act and is rewarded with puppy love. Moss keeps the pace, camp humour, and meta-moments fizzing along so even Gen Zs with gnat-like attention spans won't get bored.

There's much to like, from Elle's Greek chorus of pink-clad pals, to Nadine Higgin's attention-grabbing turn as underdog hairdresser Paulette, and Michael Ahomka-Lindsay's sweetly earnest Emmett who gets an Elle makeover - all the lawyers dress in sludgy browns.

And if not all the songs are memorable, Lauren Drew's high-energy whip-cracking as social media fitness guru Brooke is breathless fun, Paulette's heart-rending nostalgia trip Ireland is a showstopper, and Gay or European? is a comic riff on metrosexuality and continental dress codes.

A heroine motivated by getting her boyfriend back, whose case-winning ace involves knowledge of perm care is hardly a feminist icon. Yet Elle's resilience and optimism in the face of derision and a #Metoo moment, her loyalty, pro-sisterhood and championing of the underdog make her a fitting role model for our smart phone dependent age.

Legally Blonde runs at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre until July 2. Visit openairtheatre.com/production/legally-blonde