Faye enjoys Legally Blonde highlights
PUBLISHED: 09:50 05 March 2012
As Legally Blonde continues its run at Norwich Theatre Royal, DAVID HENSHALL spoke to Faye Brooks about life as Elle Woods.
When a girl gets dumped by her boyfriend it’s usually no laughing matter and she may react in a number of ways. Perhaps she will retire into her shell, mope and be miserable or shrug her shoulders. Others try to get their man back and that’s what Elle Woods sets out to do.
Elle’s college friends are delighted when they hear she is to marry Warner Huntingdon III but the beastly Warner decides he needs somebody more serious than the strikingly blonde Elle. Determined to prove she’s not just a piece of fluff she goes off to Harvard Law School to show him what she’s really made of. This is the story of Legally Blonde.
Faye Brookes made her West End debut in Grease as Sandy and says that getting the role of Elle is a dream come true because “it’s a real feel-good show that inspires happiness. Everybody comes away from it lifted and with more than just good tunes in their heads.”
Based on the book by Amanda Brown and the film of the same name with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, Legally Blonde won four Oliviers and the Evening Standard award for best new musical. It’s a family show, a bit girly Brookes admits, but if reaction to the show is anything to go by, the boys are loving it even more then the girls. “There’s a bit of adult humour but it goes over the heads of any very young people in the audience.”
Brookes says Elle’s strategy for winning Warner back is straightforward: “To prove to him that I’m everything he needs. Not just a blonde bimbo but a girl with brains.”
Elle rises above all the setbacks and slowly develops the idea that if she can succeed at Harvard, she can succeed anywhere. “It’s all about believing that you are capable of so much more.”
It’s an exhausting role because there are 24 songs or reprises in the show and she is in all but two of them and then there’s the business of acting Elle’s long, desperate struggle to be recognized by Warner as a brainbox as well as desirable. “You can almost hear the audience saying, ‘Oh, come on girl, you’ve been knocked back so many times, give up,’ But she doesn’t and there’s something endearing about that. She’s got guts and she’ll fight to the end.
“I think a lot of women watching her will feel, ‘Oh, my god, that’s me.’ It’s that Bridget Jones thing. At the same time they can see she’s bright and sexy and everything a man can want.” Brookes loves all the numbers but thinks that So Much Better is a particularly lovely song and says Legally Blonde when “everybody’s doing Irish dancing and all manner of things is another great song. And I love doing Chip on my Shoulder with Emmett and the ‘Greek chorus’ – a long number with lots of themes.”
The dancing is another big feature of the show. “There’s a skipping section which is a winner. But I’m not in that one,” she laughs. The Greek chorus is an inspired idea of having her friends, all dressed in white, as a sort of conscience reminding her why she’s there and telling her what to do because they believe in her and trust her.
There’s an old saying in the theatre that warns actors not to work with children or animals if they can help it because they so often steal the scenes. Faye Brookes has to contend with two dogs in Legally Blonde and, sure enough, they are winning the hearts of the audience. “Fortunately, I love dogs. These are so well trained, do lovely tricks and they take their own bow at the end of the show.”
■ Legally Blonde the Musical, Norwich Theatre Royal, February 28-March 10, £35-£6.50, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk