“Believing In Yourself NEVER Goes Out Of Style!” Elle Woods
Omigod omigod, you guys we just saw Legally Blonde on stage right here in Abu Dhabi! You know the one, American movie that embraces girl-power starring the very talented and beautiful Reese Witherspoon as blonde air-head sorority girl extraordinaire Elle Woods. It became something of a pink phenomenon that successfully transposed itself from the silver screen to the theatre and last week we were treated to a local version courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Choral Group (ADCG).
Now there are so many good reasons why, as residents we should support local theatre here in the capital. Genuinely we just don’t have enough of either professional stage or amateur dramatic shows such as this one in the capital. Personally, the teenager and I loved going to the theatre back in the UK both in home town and in London’s West End and we always see at least one show in the summer. The teenager is also studying drama, her piano teacher was playing the keyboard in this production and one of her friends had a leading role, so it was a no brainer that we were always going to go, and really who doesn’t love a musical, right? Having watched the movie a few times and having seen the three-time Laurence Olivier Award wining West End production stage show starring Sheridan Smith, we are very familiar with the story so we were looking forward to enjoying this latest rendition at Abu Dhabi’s Hexagonal theatre located on the breakwater.
In a quick synopsis of the plot, blonde, pink obsessed, miniature dog loving and head of the Delta Nu sorority Elle Woods is dumped by her society preppy boyfriend Warner just as she thinks he is going to propose. She abandons her fashion dreams, takes her LSAT and follows him to Harvard Law School much to everyone’s surprise, where she discovers her love of law. Helped by fellow legal scholar Emmett (Adam Gobble) she successfully gets an internship with Professor Callahan and defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in her billionaire husband’s murder trial using her hairdressing knowledge to uncover the real killer, ousting the gay cabana boy along the way (hilarious court room scene). This clichéd romantic comedy tells of how faith, hard work, girl-power and lots of pink can win the day and never underestimate a girl with a major in fashion merchandising!
We caught the last show of the run, directed by Fiona Goss and the production was quite an affair involving around eighty people both on and off stage, two theatres and a whole lot of cheesy tunes, wigs, Lycra and of course lashings of pink. Woods was played by platinum blonde wig wearing group chairwoman Alana Barraj who gave a confident performance. Her singing was on point as was her comedy timing and she shone alongside her sorority sisters from Delta Nu. Even her little dog Bruiser, so present in the film and professional productions featured but this time it was a stuffed toy mounted on a remote control car that zoomed on and off stage at irregular intervals, quite bizarre.
Of course in true romantic movie style two years later Elle, who has graduated with the highest honors, is the class-elected speaker at the graduation ceremony, has secured a job at one of Boston’s top law firms and Emmett proposes. Warner graduated without honors, no girlfriend and no job offer.
My favourite character from everything Legally Blonde related that I have seen before is manicurist Paulette and Helen Killeen gave the best performance of the night for me taking on this role. She captured everything I can remember about this character to perfection and even though there were some sound issues, her singing was sensational as were her Irish-isms. She was funny throughout and her interaction with Kyle, the UPS mail man was hilarious, especially the ‘Bend and Snap” scene as the sorority teach Paulette the sure-fire way to capture a man’s attention. Other notable performances came from Gobble as the aforementioned Emmett and Patrice McGillicuddy as Brooke was very impressive working out in her ‘Whipped into Shape‘ vigorous exercise number while still singing, I was quite out of breathe just watching. Cathryn Downing was a great hippy Enid and Jade Oswald’s stunning vocals gave prim and proper Vivienne an edge.
The ADCG, a non-profit music choir, was formed in 1977 uniting musically inclined expats and locals through the power of the song and performing. Both men and women, from first time performers to seasoned veterans, are welcome and the members hail from all over the world speaking several languages and representing different cultures. The group currently presents two major performances each year, a traditionally staged Broadway musical in the spring and a concert style musical review later in the year. We saw their performance of The Wedding Singer at Brighton College back in 2013.
The songs were certainly infectious and the quite annoying Americanisms including ‘Omigod, omigod you guys‘ was hard to shake from my head. Overall it was a great show and I really enjoyed it, you really have to admire and congratulate these guys who give up so much free time to dedicate to their passion as well as the time and commitment that goes into staging a show.
Abu Dhabi Choral Group
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