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Legally Blonde as presented by Newbridge Musical Theatre

Legally Blonde as performed by Newbridge Musical Theatre: 

Date of Adjudication: Tuesday 2nd April 2024. 

Oh my God, oh my God you guys! What a bright and breezy tonic this show proved to be for Newbridge Musical Theatre. The last year has been all about Barbie at the movies, but when it comes to Pink, I’d much rather enjoy the antics of Elle Woods, as she sets out to empower 

women and to win back her man. This wonderful show, with its wit and wisdom, goes straight for the funny bone, and Newbridge put good emphasis on the comedy of the piece in presenting a joyously happy encounter. 

Director, Art McGauran, handled this show with a light touch, revelling in the comedy of the piece and making good sense of the story, and good use of the stage. Characters were well realised, and the cast seemed to be having a ball in their presentation. Good attention has been given to the technical aspects of the production to allow for a smooth pace to the whole performance. The set for the show worked very well and was artistically pleasing. It wasn’t over-elaborate, but it functioned very well and gave good variety for the various scenes, with a particularly well-used central revolve.

Stage Manager, Orla Kavanagh, had her crew well drilled in carrying out their duties and the scene changes ran smoothly and efficiently. 

Musical Director, Dave McGauran, presented an animated and strongly rhythmic score with lightness and energy, and gave good leadership to a feisty orchestra of very good musicians. He had also done very good work with his chorus, who presented their vocals with crisp diction and good secure harmonies. 

Jodie Kelly played the challenging role of Elle Woods with good confidence, good comedy and a heart full of emotion. There was much sincerity in her affection, firstly for Warner, then delightfully for Emmett. She carried off her routines with good energy and sang with good tone and lovely expression in what was a nicely controlled performance.

Daniel Ryan gave an endearing performance as Emmett Forrest, suitably nerdy and guarded in the early scenes and growing in confidence and stature as he falls for Elle. His vocals were pleasant and secure, he had good comedic timing, and when he stood tall to Callahan, he rightfully blossomed into the perfect romantic hero of Elle’s story. 

Helena Begley, as Paulette Buonufonte, provided a great down-to-earth character, contrasting well with the more uppity attitudes of the sorority girls. Helena displayed a wealth of talent as both an actress and a singer. Her delivery of Ireland was great, and she was extremely funny and vocally top-notch in learning the Bend and Snap. Her comedy was highlighted by her encounters with Kyle. 

Rory Dignam was a delightfully shallow Warner Huntington III, which is exactly what he needed to be, but perhaps, had he been a little more suave, he might have more believably merited the affections of Elle and then Vivienne. He handled Serious very well, and he had a good sense of the comedy of his scenes. 

Conor Kilduff proved the old adage of Don’t judge a book by its cover, by presenting himself as a rather likeable Professor Callahan, only to reveal himself later as a sleaze. Despite his initial pleasantness, there was an undercurrent of ruthlessness in his great delivery of Blood in the Water. This was a very nicely played role. 

Clodagh Donnelly impressed greatly as Vivienne Kensington, a seemingly heartless vixen at the start, deliciously bitchy and superior in attitude, and then proving her worth when she acknowledges her admiration for Elle, which she did with a quite dynamic vocal quality. 

Brooke Wyndham was nicely portrayed by Áine Winter, feisty and energetic in her Whipped Into Shape sequence, and very secure in her attitude and comedy. 

Ava Trundle presented a strong character in the shape of feminist and activist, Enid Hoopes, and made the most of all her comedic opportunities. 

As the Delta Nu’s, Elizabeth Stears as Pilar, Aisling Kelly as Margot, Lauren Dooley as Serena and Tanya Gallagher as Kate, worked extremely well together as a team while also showing good individuality of character. Their singing and their dancing was impressive and energetic, and their antics were most amusing. 

Adam Trundle was a convincing Aaron Schultz, alongside a strong Cian McKeon as Sundeep Padamadan, who also doubled as a very funny Nikos. 

Sinéad Ní Ghríofa was a very capable Whitney, and Hayley Campbell was a spoilt and sulky Chutney. Michael Maguire was as slob as Dewey, and more sophisticated as Pforzheimer, while Gearóid McGauran (my God, they’re everywhere) made a very worthy and amusing contribution as Kyle.

Art McGauran made a Hitchcock-style cameo appearance as a credible Mr Woods, alongside his wife, played convincingly by Shirley Campbell. There were other note-worthy performances from Ciara Stanley as Gaelen, Tara Haughton as Leilani, Rachael Kearns as Taylor, Danielle Hayden Mangan as Courtney and Joyce, John Mullen as Winthrop and Orla Williams as The Judge. 

Star performances came from Paco as Bruiser, and Penny as Rufus. 

As mentioned, the chorus involvement in the show was strong and secure, especially from a vocal point of view, making a good impact with their harmonies and their confidence. They acted and reacted convincingly to the action of each scene, and worked hard to perfect their dance routines, courtesy of Choreographer, Áine Foley, who created nice patterns with the 

Delta Nu, and a great energetic routine for What You Want. Whipped Into Shape had an odd skipping rope error but it was still a very well-designed routine, and Bend and Snap was wonderful in design and execution. 

A good lighting design provided atmosphere to the sets and there were good special areas to highlight the action, with performers never left in shadow. Visually, costumes, by and large, were very good, with the Delta Nu looking as good as the imagined Greek Chorus as they did in reality. Elle’s costumes were good but maybe not outstanding enough, particularly the Bunny costume which looking a little frumpy, despite the actress’s ability to look good in everything. Emmet smartened up nicely after his shopping spree with Elle, and the other principals were well-defined by their outfits. The dressing of the stage, with many appropriate props and furnishings, was very good. Apart from one or two slightly late cues, the sound system was well-operated throughout, with good balance between the cast and the orchestra. 

All in all, this was actually a very smooth, secure, if perhaps a little safe, production of a highly entertaining show. Essentially, it did what Legally Blonde should do, it thoroughly entertained a highly appreciative audience and sent them home with their toes tapping, their faces smiling and their ears ringing with the wonderful music of a great fun night of musical theatre, provided by a talented and energetic cast and crew. Thank you to all concerned, and I wish you well in all your future endeavours.

Peter Kennedy

Gilbert Adjudicator 23/24

Photos by Conway Photography


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