Review: MTS present Legally Blonde at Tyne Theatre

Review: MTS present Legally Blonde at Tyne Theatre

MTS Legally Blonde – Tyne Theatre and Opera House

2nd June 2023

Another night at the theatre this evening – this time to see MTS’s production of Legally Blonde at the glorious Tyne Theatre and Opera House. I saw MTS perform The Addams Family last year and I was excited to see what they had done with this musical adaptation of the Reese Witherspoon-led movie in 2001.

The story concerns Elle Woods, a sorority queen who follows her heart to join and woo her ex-boyfriend, Warner, in the hallowed halls of Harvard Law School despite having shown no aptitude for the legal profession previously. 

The role of Elle is beautifully sung by Amelia Ashman who oozes charm as she bends and snaps her way across the stage from the word go. Billy Phillips is very much the suave, privileged white boy and their chemistry works very well. Phillips manages the nuances of his character swapping from the slick wannabe lawyer to the spoilt brat without breaking his character. Warner, for me, is a difficult part to get right and he does it, and himself proud in this production. 

The love interest eventually comes from Emmet Richmond, an established student at Harvard when Elle arrives. Dominic Birtley plays this part elegantly and encapsulates the nerdy but knowledgeable assistant to the creepy Professor Callaghan (Aaron Hastings) with a great deal of skill and vocal prowess. 

With sheer, yet vacant, determination Elle transforms the lives of everyone she meets including the put upon and timid Paulette played by Aimee Bell – who puts in a wonderful performance and sings with immense gusto – her dance with beau, Kyle – the UPS guy (Freddie Scott) near the end is an absolute joy to watch. 

If Elle is going to get her man at Harvard, then she must first see off rival Vivianne (Charlotte Harwood) the prim and proper fiancée. Harwood’s portrayal of what is, certainly to start with, the villain of the piece, is nothing short of wonderful.

As ever, I would be here all night if I were to mention every member of the cast by name but suffice it to say that there is not a weak link in this cast who take on multiple roles and make up the ensemble. 

The costumes and set were both excellent, but I would suggest that someone helps Elle into her final courtroom scene outfit to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. The sound was beautifully balanced by Tyne Audio but I have to say that I found some of the lighting a little strange in places. On the whole Legally Blonde should be brightly lit and vibrant most of the time. Bask in the joyous glow of Elle’s colourful journey. That said, there were some very clever uses of backlighting and projection which added to the excellent set.This is a complicated show from a staging point of view so very well done to DSM, Olivia, and stage managers Sam Quested and Kira Marks for keeping things flowing smoothly. 

The choreography (Lori Smedley assisted by Dance Captains Sara Devine and Lucy Comody) was outstanding from the opening to the finale and there was some excellent directing from Dan Looney. The musical direction (Josh Tarrier) in terms of the singing and choral work was also very good however, on the evening, the orchestra seemed to lack cohesion at times which detracted a little from the wonderful singing. 

This was a superb example of a cast who are thoroughly enjoying being part of a team effort and their obvious hard work has paid off with a production of which each and everyone of them can be very proud indeed. Ohmigod, you guys, very well done!

MTS’s Legally Blonde plays at The Tyne Theatre and Opera House until Sunday 4th June.

– Stephen Stokoe

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