Dogfight started its life as a 1991 Warner Bros. picture. Peter Duchan went on to write the musical adaptation with music & lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. MYK Productions are the first amateur company in the UK to have secured the rights to perform this exhilarating show and boy, have they set the bar high! The next production will be a tough act to follow.
The audience are quickly introduced to the 2 leads: Eddie Birdlace (played by Maison Kelley) and Rose Fenny (played by Cecily Redman). A charming pre-show sets the scene and acquaints patrons with the onstage 5-piece band, all incredible musicians who appear to have mastered the show's score to perfection. The young leads prove themselves phenomenal singers and convincing actors and are well supported by the ensemble. Highlights include James Mateo-Salt's portrayal of the socially angry and ignorant Boland, and Lauren Key's sassy and confident characterisation of the call girl Marcy.
Songs are well delivered, each performer appearing to have understood and embraced the pieces thanks to the Musical Direction of Jack Hopkins. Rose's song Nothing Short of Wonderful reflects her vulnerability; she is inexperienced, naive, unsophisticated and idealistic. Eddie sings with masculinity and great vibrato, and there is a natural chemistry between the unlikely sweethearts.
Scenes that pivot around the young "jar heads" feature beautiful harmonies from the "Three Bees": Birdlace, Boland, and Bernstein (played by Aidan Cutler), an audience favourite being Hey Good Lookin', a memorable tune and a great comical scene. The entire production is well punctuated with humour and occasionally ventures into political ground.
The show is expertly staged, with Direction from Adam Lacey. Though the Arena's stage is vast and deep the players maximise the use of all corners, filling the auditorium with an abundance of energy. The finale is powerfully unnerving with bright lights exposing the brutal truth and a harsh reality. Dogfight The Musical is an emotional roller-coaster and a ride not to be missed.
It's hard to write a review when you're speechless.
Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Company (MUSCOM) achieved something special tonight. They unequivocally blurred the lines between amateur and professional theatre. Taking on a musical as beastly and energetic as Legally Blonde deserves to be applauded. But to then pull it off with such style really is something to be proud of. Oh and did we mention, it's the amateur premiere?
Following the story of Elle Woods - who decides to pursue her dream man by doing everything she possibly can to get into Harvard Law School - it soon becomes clear that she has the potential to become a talented lawyer.
Undoubtedly the star of the show was Katie Astbury, who captured Elle perfectly. With some mannerisms not too dissimilar to Sheridan Smith, she could easily be placed into a professional production now and sent out on tour round the UK. Her voice was powerful, crisp and controlled, with comedy timing to match. The West End should watch out for her.
Stand-out performances also came from Harry Golightly (playing hairdresser, Paulette) who's rendition of Ireland (Reprise) was pitch-perfect and Liam Sargeant was charming as Emmett Forrest, with a lovely voice to match. Strong supporting performances came from Tye Harris as Warner Huntington III and Pascale Rollings as Vivienne Kensington.
Hilarious moments from the incredibly talented ensemble, included Emma Marsh as the overly energetic Margot, Adam Starr as Carlos, Adam Partridge as Nicos and Zachary Hollinshead as Kyle. However, we can't forget the adorable dogs, Rufus and Bruiser, who each received rapturous applause at the end!
A massive challenge of this production was the amazing set, but with the help of a brilliant stage crew team (and skilled directing), scene changes were slick and professionally executed. The entire show would have been incomplete without the excellent choreography from Denise Robinson (who is also producer and director), and the fantastic musical direction from Karl Babarczi brought the show to life.
Legally Blonde is a show to lift the spirits and MUSCOM have created an outstanding piece of theatre that could sit comfortably in the semi-professional, or even potentially, the professional theatre scene.
MUSCOM's Legally Blonde runs at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 14 March, 2015. You can buy tickets by clicking here.
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