REVIEW: Bulldogs, delivery men and gay Europeans: a sports journalist’s take on OTC’s Legally Blonde

IN THE LEAD: Hannah Wisse and Lachie Wheeler were both superb as Elle Woods and Warner Huntington III. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH
IN THE LEAD: Hannah Wisse and Lachie Wheeler were both superb as Elle Woods and Warner Huntington III. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH

I love musicals.

That won’t come as a shock to anyone who knows me well but I’m sure it might surprise quite a few people, whom I assume still consider me the very stereotype of a manly man, right up there with lumberjacks and Keanu Reeves.

For those who can’t pick up my tone, that last bit’s laced with sarcasm – I don’t assume that, I know it.

Every time I go to the theatre I always have a handful of people say something along the lines of ‘I didn’t think I’d see you at something like this’.

Think again – Jean Valjean, Elphaba, The Phantom of the Opera, Tracey Turnblad, I can’t get enough.

Heck, along with Shaggy’s Boombastic, Defying Gravity is my go to song before a big game of rugby and in terms of things I’m enthusiastic about theatre sits alongside boy bands, Hawaiian shirts, Kelly Clarkson and spaghetti and meatballs.

I fielded those queries again last week when I joined a number of workmates in supporting our Central Western Daily colleague Dani Cetinski in Orange Theatre Company’s (OTC) rendition of Legally Blonde, she was great as Vivienne Kensington by the way.

Yes, this is going exactly where you think it is, a sports journalist is going to review a musical.

Strap yourselves in, this could be a wild ride.

You won’t get awful sporting cliches either, there’ll be no full credit to the band, the cast really dug deep or they’re only as good as their last shows here.

I’m not sure how much you’ll actually be able to take from it either because while I love musical theatre, I know zero about the ins and outs of it.

So please, take this for what it is – a pretty light-hearted review of Legally Blonde by an enthusiastic dude who knows nothing about theatre and also forgot his glasses on the night and couldn’t really see everything clearly.

I’ll admit I went in somewhat skeptical because I’ve seen some really ordinary shows over the years, I love the movie and I also hadn’t bothered finding out if the musical itself – on the professional scale – is actually any good.

But my expectations were exceeded, comfortably.

The cast clearly enjoyed themselves and the crowd seemed to as well, particularly the old lady sitting behind me who found the completely unamusing parts of the show hilarious, but stayed suspiciously silent at the bits that were really funny.

There was a dude in my row who fell asleep too, yes, fell asleep.

He dozed through the entire intermission as well, but I don’t think that’s a fair indication of his enjoyment levels – or sanity, to be fair – because apparently before he nodded off he’d been loudly questioning why so many Americans had flown all the way to Orange to perform.

I digress, back to the show itself, let’s start with the star shall we?

No, I’m not talking about Hannah Wisse as Elle Woods, although she was magnificent in the lead role.

I’m talking about Jack Daintith as Kyle B O’Boyle, the UPS delivery man.

Give that kid a Tony, he absolutely brought the house down. I don’t care what anyone says, sexual innuendo is the highest form of comedy other than fart jokes and he absolutely nailed it.

He was the love interest of Paulette Bonafonte – played by Katrina Kittler – who was hilarious too, and if anyone at OTC is reading I’d very much like to see a spin-off with these two and Maisie the bulldog, who also deserves some kind of award.

Playing Rufus, she provided what I thought was one of the funniest bits of the entire show which, in an obvious side-product of using live and adorable dogs on stage, was completely unscripted.

A STAR IS BORN: Maisie the bulldog saw her moment and took it with both paws, delivering a monumental performance as Rufus. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH

A STAR IS BORN: Maisie the bulldog saw her moment and took it with both paws, delivering a monumental performance as Rufus. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH

Maisie resisting being pulled off stage, preferring to be dragged and then giving the slightest of growls was all the crowd needed to lose it and, clearly not one to let a chance go begging, the plucky bulldog broke the fourth wall in the perfect way, turning to look at the audience with a knowing look and Jerry Seinfeld-like timing before trotting off stage to raucous applause.

She’d nailed her performance, and she absolutely knew it.

Ladies and gentleman, a star has been born from this production and I fully expect to see that doggo in the next sequel of the Air Bud franchise.

The other pupper in the show, excellently named Panda, played Bruiser and was equally as good.

Seriously though, Lachie Wheeler in the male lead as Warner Huntington III was wonderful, his voice is a mixture of Fergie and Jesus, and Alan Moxey as Emmett Forrest was great too.

The Delta Nu trio – Ali Burgess, Amelia Bennetts and Gabriella Biviano – were excellent as well, and Bridget Flakeler was perfectly cast as Brooke Wyndham.

HOLDING COURT: Orange Theatre Company's Legally Blonde, a show sports journalist Matt Findlay recommends to everyone. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH

HOLDING COURT: Orange Theatre Company's Legally Blonde, a show sports journalist Matt Findlay recommends to everyone. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH

She did a number while skipping for goodness sake.

I can’t skip normally without doing the weird, slow, split-legged thing and tripping up a lot anyway, so doing it properly and singing at the same time, that’s really impressive.

Speaking of singing, the song Gay Or European is simply genius, particularly the reference to the French – which I won’t spoil.

I mean, like any amateur production it had its flaws –  the biggest being the occasional dipping in and out of American accents – but no show I’ve ever seen has been perfect, and above all this one was super fun to watch and it was really entertaining.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

In conclusion, Legally Blonde was genuinely very good and it’s certainly a show I’d recommend to everyone, but this is its last weekend so you best be quick about it.

I’ll give it seven Hugh Jackmans out of 10, and will almost certainly be moving to New York now to start my career as a Broadway critic.

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