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Legally Blonde as presented by Nenagh Choral Society Youth Academy

Legally Blonde as presented by Nenagh Choral Society Youth Academy

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 5th October 2023

Sullivan Section - Caroline Daly Jones

On a wet and very windy evening I visited the Scouts Hall in Nenagh, for the Nenagh Choral Society Youth Academies Production of Legally Blonde The Musical. Despite the miserable weather and a long drive, when I entered the Hall there was an immediate atmosphere of warmth and friendliness. There is a very strong sense of community within the Hall and in this group. I was greeted warmly by Therese and Margaret and Chairperson Mr Greg Browne and immediately felt so welcome. The awful weather outside was immediately forgotten as I took my seat.

I was given a lovely welcome on arrival as well as having a great chat at the interval on the history of Nenagh and its past shows. The front of house team was large in number under the management of Una Collins. Well done to you all as the house was jammed to the rafters and between all of you we managed to start bang on time with all seating issues solved quickly.

This was the first time I had seen this musical and I was not disappointed. Apart from a few glitches with the set towards the end of Act 1, the show ran smoothly and with a fast pace throughout. This show is full of energy and enthusiasm and straight away the Stage came to life with its huge pink cylindrical columns on either side of the stage and a pink backdrop which had windows in it and as each window opened we were introduced to Elle and the girls with their opening number “Omigod You Guys” and we were left in doubt whatsoever that this was definitely the set of Legally Blonde as there was pink everywhere from floor to ceiling. It was a great start to the show and immediately the energy bounced off the stage. Well done to set artists Paddy Nevin and Teresa Coen.

The Director and Choreographer for this show was Ms Stephanie Browne and especially for this show which has so much choreography it is no mean achievement for Ms Browne to take on both these roles.

Direction was slick, and careful thought had been given to the multiple characters. Some of them played more than one role. Casting was super and as previously mentioned the show flowed from one scene to another very well. The set took a few feet of stage space left and right but there was extra space in front of stage right that was used cleverly. There were a couple of scenes where I felt a freeze would have worked better than cast silent miming and acting whilst another scene took place but this didn’t retract from any enjoyment.

I feel that Ms Browne excelled with the choreography for this show. The cast were simply fantastic in all routines and the energy and cohesion for each routine was among the best I have ever seen for a very young youth group. Particular examples of excellence in choreography and performance were ‘Omigod You Guys’ and especially ‘Whipped into Shape ‘ which was simply incredible.

Ms Mary Rose McNally directed a fabulous sounding 9 piece orchestra and I loved the sound they created. It was indeed lovely to see the use of a pit with the Musical Director conducting. The score was played well and with great precision and I’ve no doubt that it helped the performers on stage especially when the script needs to be timed leading to vocals whilst being underscored. The sound and harmonies from the cast was particularly good showing that much time had been spent in rehearsal on this particular element. I especially loved the Overture at the beginning of the show. Overtures are now no longer a part of every show but it was lovely that Nenagh included this in theirs and it was a beautiful sound to start the evening.

Working in a confined space backstage I must say a very well done to the stage management team under the leadership of Rachel Browne, Maire Long and Phillip Talbot. The Shower scene worked really well and considering the size of this set I must congratulate all the team on how seamless the transitions were.

The main set was flipped between the Delta Nu building with opening windows which worked really well, to the inside of Harvard and the College. The set was simple but effective. Different pictures were flashed onto the backstage wall to help interpret other scenes like the Department Store and these worked well. Yes, on the night I attended there was a major set ‘incident’ at the end of Act 1 but it was resolved and the show went on. By the start of Act 2 it was fixed without further incident. Well done team.

Star Systems did the Lighting and Sound. Lighting was very good in most parts and enhanced the production. In some scenes cast were a little slow to find their spots but this wasn’t a lighting issue as they were fixed spots. Sound was very good in general.

The costumes were very well thought out, of a high standard and befitting each character. Elle was dressed impeccably throughout as were all the Delta Nu’s. The Workout and Majorettes were costume highlights for me as were the very good makeup and hair.

Elle Woods was played by Caroline Browne and I immediately liked her performance. She played the part very well. Her acting and her singing and also her movement showed that this young lady is multi-talented and was well cast in the role. I really loved her singing and her portrayal of Elle, even if sometimes I think she spoke a little too quickly in her enthusiasm, and I missed some of her lines now and again. However - Ms Browne looked great, sang beautifully, had great moments and stage presence. Her many costume changes were very slick and I liked that at one stage she had one costume under another and the change was seamless. A very good performance from this very talented lady. Well done.

Emmett Forrest was played very well by Conal Daly. This young man had a great stage presence, a lovely speaking voice and his songs with Elle were performed very well.

Mr Forrest has excellent diction and a good singing voice. I loved how his character changed as he grew in confidence and as he fell for Elle he became more confident in the presence of Professor Callahan and Mr Daly played this very well . His duets and chemistry with Elle was not overplayed , it was just right. Super maturity for a male lead who is still a school student .

Caroline Kennedy played the part of Paulette Buonufonte and she was super in this role. Pretty, great costumes and sassy, she had a lovely warm friendly persona and she sang this role very well particularly in the song “ Ireland”. There was great chemistry between herself and Kyle, played by Eamon Coffey. This was a well-cast duo and this pair bounced off each other very well. Well done.

Warner Huntington III was played by Aaron O’Donoghue. Mr O’Donoghue had great stage presence and sang his part well. He acted the two faced wealthy spoilt rich kid Harvard student very well , always looking at the best way up the social ladder. He was very smartly dressed and his songs showed his lovely singing voice.

Professor Callahan was played by Killian Forde. What an amazing strong speaking voice. Immediately I was drawn to the depth of tone and his clarity. He had a great stage presence. He played the part really well and I just knew in his sleazy scene with Elle that it was about to happen, all due to the way the character was played. Well Done.

Grace Shesgreen was the ice queen Vivienne Kensington. Her facial expressions were fantastic and you really wanted to despise her character within the audience. Her aligning with Elle at the end of the show was also played very well indeed and showed off her lovely singing voice.

Enid Hoops was played by Grainne Scullane and boy did she make me laugh in places. What a great character actor here with impeccable comedic timing and this was the epitome of there’s no such thing as a small part. Ms Scullanne absolutely got everything out of Enid Hoops. A most enjoyable performance.

Brooke Wyndham played by Megan Maher led the team on ‘ Whipped Into Shape’ which for me was one of the highlights of the show. Fantastic energy, a great part, and amazing fitness along with a lovely voice. It was a great opening to the 2nd Act . Well done.

Special mention has to go to the Delta Nu Students played by Cleo Griffin as Margot, Saoirse Lalor as Serena, Orna Daly as Pilar, and Erin Burke as Kate. The energy, movement, acting and singing of these four young women was simply fantastic and of very high quality.

The audience lit up with 'oohs' and 'ahhs' of delight when Eamon Coffey came on as Kyle the UPS delivery man. He revelled in this role and his chemistry with Paulette as mentioned was super. Well done.

There were excellent cameo performances from other cast members, notably Adam Carroll as Nikos and Dylan Noonan as Carlos ( among other characters) and these two had me in stitches. Harry Moriarty, Jayden Guilfoyle and Katelyn Carson played their parts very well and there is a bright future with young performers like these coming through in Nenagh. Well done to you all.

The entire team of cast members in this show deserve a special mention. They were secure in movement and in vocals. Not missing a beat and in some numbers the stage was full and I was particularly impressed as to how every member danced and moved in such confined spaces without any interference to another. A sure sign of endless rehearsal and dedication to getting it right.

I must say what a joy it was to see the youth of Nenagh and environs absolutely enjoying putting on this show with real quality and style and professionalism. You are all a credit to your town and long may you continue performing. Fantastic talent from the Cast, Production Crew and Backstage all the way down to Sally and Toby – Bruiser and Rufus, who were just adorable also and so well behaved!.

Overall a great show, with some lovely performances and a well-deserved standing ovation.

Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator

Some photos kindly shared by the society to accompany the review:


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