Critics love Legally Blonds

London’s notoriously crusty theatre critics have fallen for Legally Blonde: The Musical, which opened in the West End Wednesday night.

London’s notoriously crusty theatre critics have fallen for Legally Blonde: The Musical, which opened in the West End Wednesday night.

Theatre reviewers, some grudgingly, acknowledged the stage musical’s exuberant appeal. It opened at London’s Savoy Theatre.

“OMIGOD! I tried, I really tried to hate this show, but resistance is futile. It’s going to be a huge hit,” wrote veteran Daily Telegraph reviewer Charles Spencer.

Although he admitted that he was not a fan of the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie version, itself based on a novel by Amanda Brown, “the theatre has worked a strange alchemy. The stage show has its tongue in its cheek throughout, it knows it is ridiculous and infantile, and celebrates the fact with knowing wit,” Spencer wrote.

In The Independent, reviewer Paul Taylor described the musical as “ridiculously enjoyable from start to finish.”

The Tony-nominated musical ended its Broadway run in 2008, but has also developed a pink-clad, female fanbase amid an ongoing U.S. tour. The travelling production is also slated to come to Canada, making a stop in Toronto in July 2010.

Buzz had been building for the U.K. debut during a month of previews prior to Wednesday night’s opening, but even those critics who pointed out the show’s flaws offered grudging praise as well.

“Let’s overlook some forgettable tunes and welcome dance that embraces everything from skipping with ropes to spoof Riverdance…. Let’s agree that Legally Blonde is, well, fun,” Benedict Nightingale wrote in The Times.

“It is, of course, preposterous: an L.A. fashion student conquers Harvard Law School and becomes a courtroom star,” offered The Guardian’s Michael Billington.

Despite his scathing critique of the show’s storyline and obsession with fashion, he nonetheless praises lead actress Sheridan Smith for sailing “buoyantly through the show with a radiant smile as if warning us not to take it too seriously.”

Daily Mail critic Quentin Letts blasted the plot as “pap, the musical unmemorable, the dancing often hefty except for one routine with skipping ropes.”

However, he did reserve praise for some of the show’s song lyrics.