Review: Legally Blonde (Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, March 24)

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ONE of the West End’s sensational and surprise successes storms into Brighton for a fortnight as part of a national tour – and the verdict can only be ‘electrifying.’

Among the best new musicals of the 21st Century, it’s based on the film of the same name about a perky sorority girl who secures a place at law school in an attempt to win back her snobbish ex-boyfriend.

It had mixed reviews in London but proved to be a big crowd-pleaser, helped along by some jaw-dropping central performances, so those of us who kept revisiting the Savoy to see it have been understandably anxious to see if the tour could live up to such high standards.

Apart from an extremely disappointing (and almost non-existent) set this production – directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell - is as exuberant as you could wish for, with a well-chosen company giving more than 100% throughout and performing the memorable songs by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin with freshness and vitality.

Faye Brooks is a bubbly delight as Elle, the far from dumb blonde at the centre of the story. She sparkles as she takes us through Elle’s learning and growth, displaying a powerful voice and strong stage presence. She is beautifully matched by Iwan Lewis, a true find, as law assistant Emmett, who believes in this girl from nowhere.

Ray Quinn as Warner may be one of the star names, but certainly doesn’t hog the limelight: there are unforgettable performances from the always perfect Niki Evans as hairdresser and beautician Paulette, Hannah Grover as fitness queen and murder suspect Brooke, Lewis Griffiths as hunky delivery guy Kyle, and Sinead Long, Sophie Isaacs, and Micha Richardson as the Delta Nu “Greek Chorus”. And lovely to see evergreen Les Dennis as good as ever, this time displaying a darker side as the severe Professor Callahan.

So many of the songs are showstoppers that it is good to have a strong orchestra under the direction of Peter White and not a single musical number disappoints.

It should be against the law for a show to be this much fun – but the feelgood factor and five-star cast will ensure audiences leave the theatre dizzy in pink.

David Guest