Sheridan Smith is very, very excited. “Parts like this don’t often come along,” she told an eager audience at the launch of Legally Blonde the Musical, at London’s fabulous Café De Paris on Leicester Square.
Smith is about to start rehearsals for the lead role of Elle Woods in the forthcoming musical.
A huge, eager audience was served champagne and canapés as sparkly as the venue, while listening to various people behind and in the forthcoming show telling us what to expect come Christmas time. (Legally Blonde starts previews on 5 December.)
First, Legally Blonde’s feisty producer, Sonia Friedman, talked about falling in love with the show while it was still in previews on Broadway; and how, despite having a background based more in dramas and revivals, she begged the creative team to let her bring this musical to London.
Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (the guy behind Hairspray The Musical) then appeared via video from Las Vegas(!) to tell us how excited he is to be working with such a top British cast, including Sheridan Smith and Peter “Davidson”.
Peter Davison then appeared on stage to correct Mr Mitchell’s pronunciation, and tell us he’s “thrilled to be doing this show. It’s astonishing to think that I’m a musical star now, after doing Chicago in 1999 and later doing Spamalot.” Davison stars at Professor Callahan. Self-deprecating Davison gave us an anecdote about his younger self wandering around musical auditions with his guitar, singing Beatles and Bowie songs with limited success. He also paid tribute to the “enormously talented cast, who I get to be very rude to every single night.
“Which is great, because I’ve spent most of my career being hopelessly nice to people.”
After seeing another pair of stars from the show via video link (Duncan James – playing Warner – who guaranteed men will enjoy this show as much as women; and Sheridan Smith, who’s “so chuffed” about getting the part of Elle), we were treated to a medley of sparky songs from the show, performed with tantalising talent on the tiny Café de Paris stage.
Once we were attuned to the American accents, it became clear these are songs that’ll stick in your head and put a smile on your face. Kudos to the girls who managed to skip and dance at the same time in Whipped Into Shape (Aoife Mulholland as Brooke), and to the whole company for putting on a great showcase just a couple of days into rehearsals.
Jill Halfpenny shone the moment she stepped on stage as Paulette. She really has such star quality. And we were pleasantly surprised by Sheridan Smith’s performance. She’s got a mellow, alto singing voice, and while her brilliant acting is perhaps yet to be matched by her singing, we’re sure she’s going to be great come December. She told Official London Theatre:
“I’ve had to have some singing lessons and I’m having a personal trainer, because I am the laziest person and get a stitch walking to the car, so this is quite a big ask for me.
“But it’s good, the director’s brilliant, very strict, so he’s getting my ass in shape. It’s great to have something to work towards and challenge yourself.
“Most leading ladies in musicals are sopranosâ€¦ but this one particular part was the only one I could get away with, so I’m just going to give it my all every night and just enjoy every minute.” (Read the full report on Official London Theatre.)
She’s starting to sound like the fantastically positive Elle already!
We returned to the office carrying our Legally Blonde goody bags with pride (loving the nailfile and benefit make-up treats) and started counting down the days until this bright pink, sparkly, positive show arrives to perk up the West End.
Book your Legally Blonde tickets now!