The latest Showstoppers performance to grace the University of Southampton is Legally Blonde The Musical. This was, surprisingly, their Fresher’s show and all I can think about is the undying confidence. For people who have never performed on that stage, with those people, with that direction, there was this unsurmountable confidence that punched the audience in the face with that first “Omigod”.
I have always been very jealous of Showstoppers because somehow they can pull a literal Broadway show out of the air and put it on the floor of a lecture theatre. We were sat in line with the directorial team and you could see within seconds how proud they were, which really is the point of it all. People doing what they love, and supporting others. Basically, everyone should be Delta Nu’s.
The show began with the perky “Omigod You Guys” and my Showstoppers virgin companion was blown away by how many ensemble managed to fit onto the stage. With extra staging, you lose a lot of performance space, but that didn’t stop the choreography getting wild. You can tell that the choreo team of Cerys, Tom, and Ella go to sleep dreaming of Vixens with the high energy moves that didn’t take a break from beginning to end. (Also you are evil for making Chloe Gleeson’s Brooke have to dance for literally five minutes with a skipping rope, and lots of jumping – all while singing) All the Delta Nu’s were fab, but you have to give high credit to the Greek Chorus of Delta sweethearts Belle Priestley, Arya Banerjee, and Arianna Anglin who kept character every second and were enthusiastic and preppy and just generally very fabulous..
This first song was a perfect moment to see all (?) the cast on stage at the same time, and there was only perfection. I do want to take a moment to shoutout Lizzie Yabsley who played the ’emotionally challenging role of Store Manager’ – you’re great. I only made two notes during the show: one was that I loved all the blonde hair, and the second was that you were fab. Keep managing shops and singing about it.
Now’s a good time to discuss the refreshing take on Big Blonde and Beautiful. I was looking forward to seeing the shiny hues of a cheap plastic wig, and wondering what direction they would go in after the programme told me to let go of my dreams. Destiny Thomas (AKA Reese Witherspoon in an alternate reality) came storming onto the stage with blonde threaded into her braids, and that moment alone demanded a standing ovation. There was power in Destiny’s performance. She was so commanding that I was already drafting a recommendation letter to Harvard as to why she would make an excellent candidate. Destiny deserved every second that she had on the stage, and was a true professional.
This was definitely tested within only the first few minutes of the performance, where Tom O’Brien as Warner Huntington III got a bit tangled up in his microphone. To fill everyone in, the battery pack fell off his back while he was sat on a chair, so he picked it up and put it in his pocket. However, he didn’t notice that it was essentially tied around the chair and, when he stood up, the chair came with him. STILL SINGING, he took off his microphone and his shirt (not sure if that was meant to happen but the audience loved it) however he then got his sleeve all tied up and couldn’t get his hand through. The audience was crying, Tom was trying his best but he did crack, but Destiny? Professional. Girl wanted that rock. The song name, “Serious”, was very fitting for this kerfuffle.
My jaw hit the floor when we met Vivienne Kensington (Sophie Green AKA Selma Blair) because they literally are the same person. The programme says that you don’t want to give off #VivienneVibes, which I didn’t think you did, but that doesn’t stop the fact that you are definitely related. I haven’t seen Legally Blonde The Musical before, so I wasn’t aware that Vivienne and Enid (Izzy Warden) are the feminist girl power icons, but it made perfect sense. This was really just a couple of hours of girl power so it didn’t surprise me in the end. Thank you for sharing and inspiring this girl power. Same goes for Iselin Fraser as Paulette. Loved the pink hair, loved the outfit, blown away by the vocals. Also you get bonus points for doing an Irish jig in chunky heeled booties.
Now to the boys. Hi Kit, just wanted to let you know that you have actual fangirls in the audience. The amount of slightly audible “he actually looks so cute”, “wow, he’s a really good singer”, and general “awwwww”s was insurmountable. Unlike the film, Emmett gets some serious screen time, and that is a very good thing. Kit was just absolutely marvellous, faultless really. Can’t say much more than that, please continue, thank you. It wouldn’t be fair to not name drop Douglas James (UPS man, and Gay and European) for being the fan favourite and understanding stage presence, and Joseph Rix for also rocking out the best song in the programme.
With such a strong cast of girls, the boys definitely had their work cut out, and the girls who played boys had double the work. Huge kudos to Isabel Scott who had to play Professor Callaghan. Actors love to play the villain, but usually they mean Maleficient, and not some ‘old male predator’. That is always a challenge for someone on the stage, especially when you are all on your own with it. Isabel did stellar, despite the audience hating you. Professor Callaghan gave us a hint that he was an actual bell deep-down when he shoved our things across the desk to perch before the last court scene. A beautiful yet subtle audience interaction! There was not a single slip up in the song “Blood in the Water”, full of shark metaphors. If Callaghan was at uni, he would definitely be a shark, so this was fitting. I’m sorry that your bow was met with boos, because you really were amazing, that is just the sacrifice you must make when you play an actual butthead.
And here’s the kicker: most of the cast were completely sick – literally! Is this Harvard level professionalism? What I love most about theatre at university is that you can just watch people do something that they love so much, and they do it so well! The amount of time and effort that goes into these performances is just huge, but it is completely worth it once you get to the end point. I wish I could speak to all of you and say what my favourite parts were for each person because it was genuinely just filled with so much joy.
Thank you to the team of Delta Nu’s and Delta dudes for this wonderful performance. Though I think there should definitely have been a content warning for ass shaking because we saw at least three dads who were about two seconds away from a heart attack. Fun times.