ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

Legally Blonde the Musical Director: Jess Bray Musical Director: Chris Addington Choreography Nikki Wilkinson Rochdale Musical Theatre Company Zoom rehearsals for “Legally Blonde” started whilst we were in lockdown. The fact the show might not go on did not dampen spirits amongst the enthusiastic cast and then when restrictions were lifted, rehearsals began in earnest. To add to the anxiety of the society, a new venue had to be found. This turned out to be the iconic Champness Hall in Rochdale which was was booked to present the musical. This hall was originally a Methodist church built in 1925. With its eye catching art-deco interior intact it is now a multipurpose functional space. There is no stage as such but there is a high platform with choir stalls and a pipe organ; what a challenge presented itself, However, the creative and technical teams turned this space into a stage and performing area. All that was achieved by the clever use of flats and video screens. The slick scene changes executed by the stage crew, and sometimes the cast, were choreographed by stage manager, Chris Amis. The energy in which this was undertaken matched the jam-packed energy of the production. Jamie Jackson’s lighting design, and Mash Audiovisual sound, gave an arena feel to the overall effect with lively visuals and show-stopping vocals. The costumes were important to the overall imagery and character presentation certainly ticked that box, especially all that crazy amount of pink. The director, with her cast, transported the ecstatic audience through an evening that dazzled and charmed. All the music of the bouncy score was in safe hands and was delivered with such gusto. The choreography lifted the show and enhanced the story. The ensemble, other characters and Greek Chorus were hard hitting keeping the set pace, never allowing it to drop. They sang and danced with inexhaustible enthusiasm. Fun performances all round. Challenging the “Dumb Blonde” stereotype this musical knocks the cliché firmly on the head with girl power. It tells the story of the rocky road when looking for love. Among the leading males, we met Elle’s boyfriend, Warner Huntington 3rd. Steven Cheeseman, as Warner, made much of the role displaying equal quantities of charm and smarminess. The intimidating professor Callaghan was played ruthlessly by Terry Banham. It was Zac Grenier, however, who made the biggest impact as the shy, friendly law teacher assistant, Emmett Forrest. The subplot of the lovelorn manicurist, Paulette, added to the enjoyment of the show. Cesca Astley gave a sassy portrayal as Paulette. The scene with the easy-on-the-eye UPS delivery guy was a hoot. It was time for the girls to show their power. Elle’s ex finds a new girlfriend, Vivienne.