Legally Blonde Savoy Theatre London 2011

 

Memories of Lee’s Opening Night as Emmett in Legally Blonde – 20th of June 2011

This is not a review per se, as it is being written originally for Meadaholics, but I asked the LMAS Team if they would take a piece from me focusing on my memories both of, and around, the show and they were kind enough to say yes. That said, here is my Experience...

Again, I must take a step back before I get to opening night. Lee’s first appearance as Emmett Forrest, was actually just before opening night when he, Carley Stenton who played ‘his’ Elle, and Simon Thomas who played Warner, took ‘Chip on my Shoulder’ to West End Live 2011. Sadly, even though I did my level best to get there in time, I was just 5 minutes late due to traffic and missed out. I was gutted as I was really, REALLY looking forward to it. However, I TRIED to hide my tears from my mum (I don’t know to this day if she saw them), took a deep breath & enjoyed the rest of the day, hanging on tight to the fact that I had tickets for opening night waiting for me at home. (I have since seen online and adore that performance, making the above even MORE galling!)

Now on to the day of opening night. I should have known from the start it was going to be, shall we say ‘unique’? As a Lee fan you, dear reader, will understand that I had not exactly had the best of times between West End Live and this point and improvement on the opening night wasn’t rapid. It was, from memory, one of the only times I was silly enough to take a half day instead of a day off work, resulting in a mad dash home from work at two, to get up to town.

We took the tube up to Westminster and British Summer being what it is by the time we got there the Heaven’s opened! Already grumpy from the rush and having to sit through a night performance of a show she ‘only liked’ twice, this did NOT improve my Mum’s mood one bit! At this point she realised I’d forgotten my taxi concession card & we’d have to repeat the journey to get home. That combined with having to push my chair up a MOUNTAIN to get to the accessible door meant that by now I was VERY lucky not to be sharing Bruiser’s doghouse!

By now, you have read this far and you may be wondering WHY I’m sharing what sounds like a bad silent movie. Thanks for hanging in there and now for the reward from St Cecilia (the patron saint of the performing arts) for my Lee love and perseverance:

Screenshots  Credit/QVC shopping channel

Even though we were way too early for the House to be open, it was by now HAMMERING it down and Mum knocked on the door out of desperation. Her knock was heard and a generous usher took pity on us and let us in. He whispered very quietly:

“I shouldn’t really do this, but be REALLY quiet and I’ll walk you across. They’re having a last minute rehearsal down there.”

I looked down and there was Lee! Mum and I were the very first members of the public to see him play Emmett Forrest on the West End stage! How COOL is that for Heaven’s Sake?! (Ok, so it was only by about twenty minutes and only briefly, but it’s still history, right?! I’m claiming so anyway.) He looked STUNNING! The curls from above, in a spotlight! There are no words. My tummy did a flip and I truly don’t know HOW I didn’t gasp. My mind went ‘Mead-Mushed’ and I honestly don’t remember when in the show they were rehearsing, sorry! I do remember whispering ‘Break a leg, Lee Sweetheart’ under my breath though. He and the cast MUST have heard us going across and I feel bad for that but I only hope once he realised why, Lee wouldn’t have minded.

Screenshots  Credit/QVC shopping channel

We went across the auditorium in the Dress Circle to the door where the audience wait & we were chatting to the ushers and when they asked why we’d picked that night, I just giggled and they knew straight away. That gave Mum the chance for some revenge in the form of some merciless teasing! This whole time I could still hear the rehearsal through the door.

By the time we were allowed into our places, I was FLOATING.

 

The show itself was watched though a soft focus spotlight solely trained on Lee. It was almost like my brain ‘switched off’ when Lee wasn’t on stage, although I do remember laughing & being forgiven (almost) during ‘Ireland’.

 

Here seems a good place for a few words on the rest of the cast.

Carley Stenson & Lee Mead as

Elle & Emmett - Savoy Theatre London 

Photo Credit/Ellie Kurttz

I really enjoyed Carley Stenson as Elle. She was sweet, warm, smart and funny and her voice and acting style blended well with Lee’s I thought. I never heard of her before Elle despite her ‘Hollyoaks’ role, but would definitely see her again in the right role (I’m not a green slime kind of girl despite sharing my name with the Princess in ‘Shrek’.)

I thought Carley was best in ‘OmiGod You Guys’, ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ and the title duet (more about that later).

 

Chris Ellis-Stanton was fab as Kyle (both times) and again both times Peter Davison was just right as Callahan – a great theatre baddie of the kind you love to hate.

 

I saw Tamara Wall as Brooke that night and ANYONE who can skip and sing live at the same time deserves praise for guts if nothing else!

 

Natalie Casey was good as Paulette and very funny but if the CHARACTER was my real best friend she wouldn’t last ten minutes before I ran her over!

 

Siobhan Dillion played Vivienne skillfully and well, with more light and shade and a lot more heart than she seems to have at first. I liked her a lot.

Screenshots  Credit/QVC shopping channel

The only actor who was not to my taste (though skillful) was Simon Thomas as Warner. Thomas’ Warner I personally saw as cold, slick and irredeemably shallow, whereas Duncan James’ Warner had a warmth and a twinkle that made you love him even though he’d been a twit! I would have loved to see James’ Warner go up against Lee’s Emmett for Elle’s hand.

Now Emmett/Lee:

Emmett as a character puts me in mind of someone I was once very fond of, so I was always pre-programmed to like him. To have him played by Lee was a gift from the start. Hence why I’d insisted on opening night tickets and didn’t that pay me back in spades?! * Insert girly giggle here*

I do remember being thrilled that from the ‘Harvard Variations’ (when Elle and the audience first meet Emmett), he was on stage an awful lot more than I recalled from before.

I know Lee himself is on record as saying that ‘Take It Like A Man’ was his favourite song from the show but although that is fab, I love the ‘Harvard Variations’ and ‘Chip On My Shoulder’. The way he said ‘Hello Kitty’ had me giggling and melting all at once.

Screenshots  Credit/QVC shopping channel

‘Take It Like A Man’ was a good song, a clever piece of stagecraft, and judging by the cheer to which I added my voice, it should be a standard clause in all Lee’s contracts that he must do a costume change on stage! (A word here for Carley’s ability to keep her character. I KNOW I couldn’t have done it!)

Lee portrays anger at injustice so well that I would NOT have wanted to be in either Callahan’s or Dewey’s shoes for long! (At one point I did wonder if Lee would rupture something from lifting an uncooperative, large & grumpy Rufus, but thankfully not!)

‘Gay or European’ was so funny that even from the Circle I could see the cast trying not to ‘corpse’ and it’s Emmett who gets to ‘catch’ Nicos, so by then my ribs were aching with laughter!

‘Legally Blonde’ itself was just amazing. We all know how well Lee does soft and tender and he pulled if off PERFECTLY! I fell in love for sure. The way, even as he was in bits, he tried to help and comfort Elle, I was a puddle of goo! It really is the perfect song for that show. I was so moved by Lee and Carley both together and solo.

Screenshots  Credit/QVC shopping channel

The finale was so funny & Lee’s ‘Dad Dancing’ was a treat! He put a twirl in as well if I remember, much to the amusement of myself and other fans who were there to support him and cheering their heads off.

The last thing I remember was Lee being given flowers & beaming from ear to ear!

 

So was Lee’s Legally Blonde Opening night WORTH the rain, the dramas and a few days of sucking up to Mum?

 

Oh YES! IT WAS AMAZING!

 

Hope you enjoy this long review: I know it’s a mouthful but this particular Lee ‘adventure’ is very special to me.