A series of gifted amateurs put on an Elle of a performance at Newcastle's Tyne Theatre and Opera House last night.
The musical is based on the hit film starring Reese Witherspoon. But this stage adaptation is full of catchy and hilarious music, following the trials and tribulations of Elle Woods(played by Whitley Bay's Cheryl Moody), a Delta Nu sorority girl who followers her lover Warner (Kevin Rhodes) to Harvard Law School to prove she is ‘Serious’ about his love.
As she heads to her new school, she soon realises she might not be up for the job after all. But, throw in some sorority girls, a law professor who’s out to impress and a murderous fitness queen and you have the ultimate recipe for an exciting theatrical evening - or so you'd hope.
The talented thespians at the local amateur dramatics society which stars a variety of south east Northumberland and Tyneside performers, really attempted to raise the bar by producing a show that would rival the West End or even the Broadway version of the hit musical.
Having been lucky enough to have seen the outstanding London version with the brilliant Sheridan Smith in the lead role, I was really nervous about seeing this production. Firstly, because as the show is a very new production, it comes with all the whistles and bells and the musical score is so demanding, could our local stars bring themselves up to the mark?
Thankfully, the production I saw last night was a farcical adventure of hilarity and sheer musical entertainment. The cast was full of energy and it was very clear to see that every single person on the stage was able to 'command and demand' attention - to quote one of the sorority girls.
In the lead role you have Whitley Bay air hostess Cheryl Moody whose acting skills were extremely impressive and held suitable animation for the role. The part demands an extremely talented individual who can sing, act and dance and Cheryl certainly gave it her all. I think she only goes off stage once or twice in the show and that's to have a costume change.
Cheryl's vocals were slightly thinner compared to acting ability but she gave a rousing performance which all the audience enjoyed.
Other stand-out performances came from Seaton Burn's Alex Easten as Emmett Forrest, Elle's unexpected lover, who was a real game changer in terms of making the production an amateur show to a semi-professional one. By the end of the show he had such great stage presence, Easten came across as shy and reluctant at first but grew with the show and that was a real pleasure to watch.
In terms of female roles there are some truly great characters, Whitley Bay student Nicola Hewett gave a stunning vocal as Paulette, although I'd love to see her enjoy the role a lot more. Whitley Bay musical theatre teacher Caroline Sabiston was truly fantastic as Vivienne, she gave an all-round brilliant performance and was a pleasure to watch, her vocals in the Legally Blonde Reprise were extremely powerful and resonated above the rest of the ensemble.
But I think the real stars of the show were the two real dogs used on the stage, Chi-Chi as Bruiser and Patsy as Rufus. Every time they came on stage the audience were completely overcome with cuteness of the pups.
For me, the show was a great success and is definitely worth getting a few more bums on the seats before it closes on Saturday. The dancing was sharp and catchy, the music is brilliantly performed by a great local band and the set is really something which would match the West End counterpart.
The show runs from until Saturday, November 28. Tickets from £13.20 and are available on the Tyne Theatre and Opera House's website.