Rude theatre critics warned they won’t be invited back

Quentin Letts said the show had 'fuller-bodied' actors

Monday, 20th June — By Richard Osley

Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde has proved popular at the open air theatre’s summer season [Pamela Raith]

ONE of London’s best-loved theatres has taken the rare step of warning “insensitive” critics that they will not be invited back.

The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre issued a statement after the reviews – largely glowing – came in for its production of Legally Blonde.

From most quarters, the pop musical has received praise for its diverse company and recruiting black actors in roles which have generally been handed to a white cast in previous versions.

While Reece Witherspoon played the lead role in the movie the show is based on, Elle Woods is being brought to life by Courtney Bowman, of mixed heritage and who has described herself as plus size in the past.

But in its statement, the theatre said: “We’re thrilled with the response to the production from audiences and review­ers alike, however we are disappointed by the insensitive language of one review.”

It added: “We expect that everyone comments with respect and sensitivity, and those who decide not to will no longer beinvited back to our theatre.”

This stance sparked a series of supportive messages on social media, but also claims of censorship.

The author of the review was not named but is widely assumed to be Quentin Letts, who had been at the press night for the Sunday Times and went on to write that the show “has cast fuller-bodied, non-binary actors and turned the whole thing into a relentlessly zingy assertion of minority pride. Fellow fatties of the world, first we take Harvard…”

Mr Letts, 59, who used to be the political sketchwriter for the Daily Mail, went on to bemoan what he called the show’s “devotion to diversity” and said “the stage’s super-structure wobbles under the weight of the company’s loosely choreographed gyrations”.

Quentin Letts

Among the messages of support for the theatre’s response, industry newspaper The Stage published an editorial which said

Mr Letts had used language “most parents would tell off their seven-year-olds for using in a playground”, adding: “This is a pretty low bar to expect when it comes to a national theatre critic.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, the show’s director Lucy Moss said, when asked about the controversy at the Tony Awards, in New York: “The theatre is amazing and the team is so brilliant.”

She added: “I think it’s unacceptable to make comments like that about people’s appearance. Fortunately the show is doing really well.”
Legally Blonde’s run ends on July 2.

The theatre’s next show is a new 101 Dalmations musical.

Related Articles