Legally Blonde – The Musical

When: February 3 – 18, 2024
Where: Artscape, Cape Town
Ticket price: R250 and R295
Direct booking link:
Block bookings: Tina Gough (082 771 9644 or e-mail

Scroll down for creative credits and casts  

I love, love, loved Legally Blonde – The Musical, on in Cape Town at Artscape, until February 18, 2024. It is fun, hugely entertaining with a fabulous energetic cast, stunning sets, costumes and choreography. Consummate direction by Kyla Thorburn and musical direction by Barend van der Westhuizen. The production is being presented by the Pinelands Players. It is remarkable that a community theatre group has produced this epic scale staging – around 60 on stage, per night. There are two doggies on stage at each performance (with full compliance with animal safety regulations).

The performers are doing theatre for the love of theatre- without being paid. Frequently community theatre is tagged as AmDram (amateur theatrical) but there is nothing amateur about this impressive production which could more than hold its own with a professional musical theatre production. This is the first major epic scale production by Pinelands Players, in a long time. It presented Hairspray in 2019 at Artscape. Hairspray was good but Legally Blonde is on another level.

For this large scale  musical theatre production, the producers have brought on board a professional creative team- which includes – choreography (Duane Alexander and LAMTA), lighting (Faheem Bardien) and  set design (Chad Findlay). Extensive investment has gone into high production values with the props (check out the glass cabinet bookshelves at Harvard Law School) and costumes (love the drum majorette costumes and pompoms). The attention to detail is extraordinary and it works like a charm.

This is my first time seeing the musical on stage.  The musical has been staged by community groups in Cape Town but as far as I can ascertain, it has not been professionally staged in our city. One can understand that – with the huge cast and multiple set changes that are involved, it is a costly venture. I was researching recent professional productions of Legally Blonde out of South Africa. The story and musical is upbeat and affirmational and it is no wonder that in a Post Covid era, the musical is being embraced as an upper and feel-good show. However, it is not easy to stage. A few reviews slated one production as “dated”. A reviewer mused that one production was camp and over the top and made everything a joke.  Other productions left reviewers flummoxed in terms of being stripped down conceptually – with minimal props and puppets used for the dogs. 

I was wowed by the Pinelands Players’ interpretation. They have not attempted to create a facsimile of the iconic film starring Reece Witherspoon (2001). The musical was first staged in 2007, with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach – based on the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown. (By the way, Brown went to Stanford law school and was inspired by her own experiences in writing the book.)

This Legally Blonde makes sense in our times. The scene where Elle hits back against sexual abuse by her law prof, is beautifully rendered. Elle is a woman of our times. Donning her signature pink, in the era of #MeToo, she is owning her identity, with her cheering Greek Chorus which is a lot of fun. This is women supporting women and it rocks. References have been updated from the original film but not nauseatingly. I read that in one staging, the protagonists are glued to their mobile phones as props. Mobile phones figure in this production but very subtly as props.

The thrust of this legally Blonde is the development of the protagonists- Elle and her cohort. We saw the Legal Cast – with Christine Thonissen (Elle), Michael Squitieri (Emmett) Simon Thompson (Warner), Barend van der Westhuizen (Professor Callahan), Tamith Hattingh (Paulette) and Megan Chetty (Brooke). Scroll down to see who is in the Blonde cast. I thought that they were all terrific. Awesome energy. I am a big fan of Thonissen and she delivers a knockout performance – nailing the singing, dancing and characterisation.  The ensemble is fantastic- amped and vibrant. The dance is a wow – watch out for the Irish dance and drum majorette scene. It is not just about choreography but about movement. At all times, the cast is animated- seated, in repose. I don’t think that I have seen this level of intricate physical theatre and movement in a  community theatre musical production. Kudos to director Kyla Thorburn, LAMTA, stage manager (Morag Tilson, assisted by Melissa Marcus) and all those involved in infusing this production with vigour and energy.

The scene shifts are impressively managed with Artscape’s drum revolve and scrims dropping down into the stage. Yes, it is community theatre and the set shifts are not fully automated but when required, props are moved on and off stage, with aplomb. Chad Findlay’s set design is a dream. There is no attempt to spoof this story. It is all done with respect.

It is financially prudent to use audio visuals to ring in set changes and this is used extensively in contemporary musical theatre. I love that they use proper sets in Legally Blonde. Elle has a desk – it is not a flickering filmic image. Paulette’s salon has hair vintage hair dryers. Wonderful detail in set and props- a delight to watch.

The budget for this production did not stretch to a live orchestra. However, Barend van der Westhuizen as musical director, has made magic with his arrangements. The lovely harmonies and group singing, compliment the principals who are all in fine voice. The backtracks work in synch with the singing and the sound quality is great, without voice being drowned out by backtracks. Running time with interval is about two hours and 40 minutes. For me the time whizzed by and I was captivated throughout. Legally Blonde – The Musical, Cape Town 2024 is a sheer joy – beautifully staged (wow set and costumes), with knockout performances, choreography and upbeat songs. Go see it. Please do not miss.

Blonde Cast: Laura Bosman as Paulette and Bryony Bosman as Elle (Blonde cast)
Legal Cast: Simon Thompson as Warner Huntington III and Christine Thonissen as Elle in the Cape Town production of Legally Blonde -The Musical, at Artscape, February 3-18, 2024, staged by Pinelands Players. Supplied.
Legally Blonde -The Musical, Cape Town, February 3-18, 2024

Creative team Producers: P² Productions (aka Pinelands Players)
Director: Kyla Thorburn
Musical director: Barend van der Westhuizen
Stage manager: Morag Tison  
Cast Some lead and support roles have been double cast as the Legal cast and the Blonde cast who will be alternating performances, starting with the Legal cast on February 3 and then alternating with each performance thereafter:

Elle Woods – Christine Thonissen (Legal) and Bryony Bosman (Blonde)
Emmett Forrest – Michael Squitieri (Legal) and Noah de Villiers (Blonde)
Warner Huntington III – Simon Thompson (Legal) and James Lister (Blonde)
Professor Callahan – Barend van der Westhuizen (Legal) and Robert Shenton (Blonde)
Paulette Buonufonte – Tamith Hattingh (Legal) and Laura Bosman (Blonde)
Brooke Wyndham – Megan Chetty (Legal) and Gizelle Willows (Blonde)  

There are another 44 performers and seven understudies who make up the rest of the cast.


✳Featured image: Tamith Hattingh as Paulette second from left, and Christine Thonissen as Elle in the centre (Legal cast)- Legally Blonde -The Musical, Artscape, Cape Town, February 3-18, 2024, staged by Pinelands Players. Supplied.