Margate Operatic Society has entered a new era with Legally Blonde.
This girly, girl-power-driven American musical exudes youthful female energy, and a company that dates back to the early 1900s could hardly have chosen a more suitable vehicle to attract new young talent.
Operatic companies can no longer rely on repertoire of Gilbert and Sullivan or Rogers and Hammerstein. That way potentially leads to steady decline, however popular these composers remain with an older audience.
They must look to the young to keep them relevant to new generations and to ensure that a century-old company prospers in the next.
MOS succeeded. This musical is loved by millions of young women and a host of new MOS recruits inject so much energy that it’s breathless.
A skipping sequence is high-octane, and the dancing throughout is dynamic, especially in the Riverdance spoof.
Full marks to Georgia Rowland-Elliott and Amy Simpson for some exciting choreography.
Opening night attracted a large audience to The Winter Gardens, far younger than usual, for this story of a supposedly dumb blonde defying her snooty suitor Warner, who doesn’t think she’s bright enough to be the wife of an aspiring lawyer, to prove him wrong.
She goes to Harvard and becomes a successful lawyer by using intuition and instinct rather than quoting dreary case law. When Warner realises his mistake, it’s too late. She’s moved on.
The central role of Elle Woods is critical to the success of Legally Blonde. Georgia Rowland-Elliott gives a stellar performance, strutting the blonde stuff, singing, dancing and acting like a West End debutante.
A large cohort of sassy, lively women support her, and there is even a Greek-style chorus. Men feature, of course, but are put firmly in their place, playing second string to the girls holding centre stage. There are wonderful performances by Karen Martin as the Irish-loving hairdresser Paulette, Molly Knight as the Vivienne (the “brighter” girlfriend), and Hollie Harris as Brooke, the accused got out of jail by Elle.
While the ladies steal the show, Stephen Porter (Emmett) and Alfie Murray (Warner) play their parts well, with Stuart Clements, who also directs, outstanding as the creepy Harvard lawyer Callahan.
This is a musical without hit numbers, but eminently hummable tunes like Omigod and Legally Blonde. The orchestra directed by Phil Hughes belted out the numbers to great effect.
Few companies are offered the chance to perform this newish musical, with an approved provided set, during a licensing window limited to just a year.
That MOS is one of them underlines its pedigree and huge reputation beyond the boundaries of Thanet. No wonder there was a standing ovation.
Legally Blonde demonstrates that, despite any potential personnel changes, this company is attracting new talent and in good shape for the future.
The show runs at Winter Gardens, Margate, until Saturday, May 14. To book call the box office on 01843 292795.