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Legally Blonde as presented by Castlebar Musical & Dramatic Society


Adjudication Performance 7th March 2024

It was a glorious day upon my arrival into the town of Castlebar as I looked forward to this performance of Legally Blonde by this lovely Society who this year are celebrating their 10th Birthday. The front of the House was a tight ship. It was well run, with many front-of-house staff milling through the theatre on the busiest of evenings when I arrived. I was looked after by Ms Anne Marie Gibbons, PRO of the Society, and the full team. It was very well supervised and executed, and the theatre, as large as it is, was filled rapidly and with little fuss. Well done, Front-of-House Team. I was surprised to see just how big this venue was, and, once I was shown to my seat there was a charming vibe already emanating from this audience as they awaited the performance to begin.

The director for this production was Ms Donna Ruane. Ms Ruane had a lovely vision for this show. It is sometimes, I believe, quite challenging to translate the film we all know to a stage production that is so dynamic and vibrant and so full of energy. Ms Ruane brought a sense of fun to this show as Director. It is one of Ms. Ruane’s strengths to bring out critical moments in the show beautifully, which impacted the audience through lovely emotion, lovely humour, and good casting. We were immediately brought into Elle’s world, a world of pink, fun, and fluffiness, and I instinctively wanted Ms Woods to succeed. Ms Ruane's lovely direction for this role was excellent. This was a very entertaining show. Particular mention was the Harvard Law School scenes, “Bend and Snap” and the courtroom scene with Carlos which was particularly well done with beautiful comedic timing. This cast was well-balanced and worked very well together, and I do believe it worked well with Ms Ruane at the helm also and the rest of her production team.

Ms Claudia O'Sullivan was the choreographer for this show. As I type, the first thought that comes into my head immediately is, “Bend and Snap.” What a tremendous choreographic number this was. The energy bounced off the stage, and the fitness levels must be colossal!! The energy throughout your Choreography was so slick and well-moved, and everyone was so very well in tune with one another, with not a foot wrong. “Oh My God” was so energetic that it bordered on excited hysteria!! “What You Want” was moved well, with so much energy again, and it was one of the show's highlights for me. Superb Choreography here and such an immensely long number which required so much fitness. Not once did the energy levels and electric vibe change. I looked forward to the dance numbers and was not disappointed. Very well done, Ms O’Sullivan.

The Musical Director for this show was Ms. Deirdre Lee. Ms Lee had a clear understanding of the music and brought out the best performances from the cast. The music throughout added beautifully to the show, and this Orchestra was very well-balanced and created a lovely sound, never overshadowing the cast. An excellent Job, Ms Lee, and it enhanced the show wonderfully.

The Stage Manager for this production was Mr. Brian Murphy. This show ran very smoothly from start to finish. To give but two examples, the scene where Elle takes some new clothes and the clothes rails are slowly and smoothly moved on stage by the backstage crew dressed professionally in black on either side, not disturbing the dialogue or the players. The scene where Paulette's salon is brought on stage again while the cast was speaking was expertly well done, along with the videography of illusions that donned the theatre throughout with scenes of golf courses, Harvard Law, Jail, and Library. The list is endless, all the intricate little details which I love were so beautifully woven into the production was so very well run by Mr Murphy as Stage Manager and his team—well done.

Set Design Construction and Props were the responsibility of re-staging set design Co and, most importantly, the very clear and distinct videography. These projections worked well. Examples include the men's department store and golf course. Paulette's set salon was beautiful, so pretty, and so versatile. The clothes rails in the men's department store and that excellent caravan were visually and practically superb. The only set that I felt could have been better was the set for Oh My God, you guys with the Delta Nu. I do think the set could have had more depth to it and some more detail as it was pretty flat. I understand that sets are a massive part of any production, and there are many reasons why a set is used or developed in the way it is, but just personally, when so much videography is used in other scenes when there is an actual physical set that it could be more embellished, decorative and more accurate. However, in complete opposite, Paulette’s Salon was simply superb; I loved the wallpaper, the attention to detail, and the colours, which were all so lovely. It was so beautiful, and the incredible detail that had been put into this was obvious.

The sound was by Frankie McDonald—McDonald AV. The Sound was excellent throughout. Mics between the Orchestra, principals, and ensemble were very balanced. Very well done here, given the amount of vigorous movement, dancing, singing, and dialogue involved. I did not once hear a flaw, error, or imbalance. There is no mean feat in such a lively production. Very done, Mr. McDonald. Simply awesome.

Lighting was by Indigo Lighting. Again. Excellent. Beautiful colours, bursts, and flashes are beautifully used throughout. I felt some areas could have been lit with more spots or vital lighting, such as the Delta Nu Sign on the opening set. I couldn’t read it properly from where I was seated. It needed more light on the sign so the audience knew where this particular part of the story was happening. It's just a minor issue, but I must mention it. There was excellent use of spots elsewhere, particularly on Elle and other main characters. These colours spot lit the main characters successfully and effectively, to create beautiful visuals, and enhance the storyline beautifully.

Costumes by Nomac Productions were smashing. Particular mention to ALL of Elle’s wardrobe, Paulette’s wardrobe was a sheer winner throughout, Emmet, the poor student, Warner the wealthy, and Vivienne Prim and Proper. Still, Kyles's costume also drew a laugh from the audience with his cool costume and his swagger, and the chorus all were costumed effectively and were a visual explosion of lovely colour throughout.

Props were provided by Re-Staging Set Design. Superb attention to detail here, from Emmet's satchel to Paulette's salon to the courtroom scene with Carlos, and one could not forget to mention it. However, Bruiser and Rufus were glorious editions to the performance, drawing oohs and aahs and awws throughout the show. Props were a huge contributor to this lovely feel-good show's overall magic. Well done to the props team. Great job.

Lorna Dennehy played Elle Woods. Bubbly, pretty, gorgeous voice, massive energy, fantastic dancer, and an excellent Elle from start to finish. From the very first second you bounced onto the stage, you were a bright light, a beautiful Elle Woods, with lovely chemistry with your fellow cast members, notably Warner and Emmett, but also with your other characters, specifically Serena, Margot, Pilar, and, of course, your beautiful friendship with Paulette Bonafonte. You have a lovely voice, with a colossal dynamic and tone moving from energetic to emotional, from being so vulnerable to being so strong. “So Much Better” was an absolute highlight, showing off your vocal range beautifully with so much emotion. You were so charming. I warmed to you immediately. You moved beautifully and with great energy in so many dance numbers, and it was lovely to witness you in this role you created as Elle Woods. Well done, Ms Dennehy.

Margot, Serena, Pilar, and Kate were played by Nicole Scott, Emma Daly, Ewa Cieslak, and Sophia Byrne, respectively. What a fabulous troupe you all were in this show full of life and joy you were when you each walked on stage. You were a tour de force to be reckoned with, with breath-taking energy and a friendship and loyalty to Elle that was admirable and a joy to watch every single time you, arrived on stage. Your physical fitness levels and energy were something to be envied (a part I will never audition for !!), as were your bubbly personality and great costumes. It was magnificently played and so wonderfully cast. Bravo.

Paul O’Brien played Emmet Forrest, a lovely, heart-warming character loving the simple things in life with no drama. Humble, earnest, and lovely humility endeared me to Mr O’Brien’s character in this role. I loved your transformation from a rather shy, reserved, and quiet man into the lawyer you became and the confidence you gained through the show. With a vocal that seemed a little nervous initially and underconfident, you did get more confident as the show progressed, and you were a lovely Emmett. This was a charming, simple, humble part, and you wore your heart on your sleeve. I liked your portrayal of Emmett Forrest Mr O’Brien from beginning to end.

Olwyn Behan played Paulette Bonafonte's part. What a glorious role. What a gorgeous character you were, Ms Behan. And a beautiful vocal. “Ireland” was a highlight of the show for me. There was such lovely rapport between you, Elle, and the rest of the cast; you were lonely, unbelieving in yourself, and blind to your beautiful personality, believing you would never find love and being unhappy. And you blossomed in this part. You moved around the stage effortlessly with lovely, funny facial expressions and drama. Your song Ireland showed your utter vulnerability and longing for a man who will love you as much as you loved the idea of Ireland. You played this part very well, Ms Behan. I loved you in it. Well done. Again – fab costumes!.

Matthew Largent played the part of Professor Callaghan. What a strong character Mr Largent made in this role. He had a bit of an attitude of great self-importance and very egotistical in this role. Mr. Largent had an air of authority about him from the first moment he arrived on stage. The song “Blood in the Water” was well played, while a bit of light on the higher notes however, it was still a good vocal. Strong character. Well-acted Mr Largent.

Enda Mulchrone played Warner Huntington III. Mr Mulchrone played and acted well in this part. I did feel that Mr. Mulchrone's vocal performance was somewhat inconsistent, where, at times, some notes broke or were lighter than others or under the note in singing. I felt Mr. Mulchrone could have been a little more passionate, and more emotion could have been given firstly to breaking up with Elle, and then to his romance with Vivienne, and then to his desolation at Vivienne breaking up with him. Visually, Mr. Mulchrone, you looked great, fabulous costumes. and with Vivienne and Elle aesthetically, you were a fantastic group and well-cast. It was just a little on the vocal and the emotions that I felt you could have given more on the evening I attended.

Katie Padden played the part of Vivienne Kensington. Straightlaced, proper, strict, and very serious, this part was played very well by Ms Padden. I lost some words in the earlier scenes when she was initially introduced to the audience. I felt that some of the dialogue was spoken into the wings rather than to the audience for some of Ms Padden's dialogue. I think more emotion and love was needed and her feelings for Warner could have been a bit stronger in the overall performance. Ms Padden has a beautiful speaking voice.

Sarah Granahan played the part of Brooke Wyndham. Again, a great part played with great energy, fiery passion, and the urgency of a woman who has been accused of the wrong and is fighting her case to be cleared and freed of the murder of her husband. “Whipped into Shape” was a visual treat with enviable energy from beginning to end. Superb acting and comedic timing. Ms Granahan, you played your part very well, and again, I envied your energy! Well done.

Aoife Halligan played Ms. Hoops, a supportive role for Brooke Wyndham as a fellow inmate in jail with Ms. Wyndham. Ms Halligan played a lovely part here. And there is no such thing as a small part. Well done, Ms Halligan.

I also wish to mention the part of Kyle. I loved your entrance through the audience with the house lights on you, and your swagger was brilliant and hilarious. Your charm and the love you had for yourself (!) were so funny. However, your interactions with Paulette really won me over in this part for you. You lit up the stage, the audience lapped up your fun sense of humour, and your joie de vivre, and the dialogue between yourself and Paulette and her reactions was one of the best pieces of comedy I have seen on a stage on my journey this year.

Chorus- Every number in this show was sung well and to a very high standard, with lovely balanced harmonies and excellent sound and tone. With so many numbers, this chorus played a massive role in this show's success. Harmonies were beautiful, moving from soft singing in the more emotional scenes to tremendous singing in the more significant numbers, including choreography mentioning “Bend and Snap” and “Oh My God you Guys” in particular. This Chorus was a vocal delight from start to finish. Well done to every one of you.

You are a lovely, talented, and very young Society who did a marvellous job with this year's show. And as a Society as a whole, I applaud you all. It was a pleasure to be in your company this evening, and I applaud every one of you for your performances on stage, backstage, in front of the house, in the committee, orchestra, or production team. It was my pleasure to be in your company, and I wish you ongoing success and many more years to come. Thank you.

Caroline Daly Jones

Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/2024

Some photos shared by the society - Photographer - Alison Laredo


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