Mar 10, 2012 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Most high school musicals have been done before. And then there’s “Legally Blonde.”
The rights to the modern pop musical, based on the 2001 motion picture of the same name, became available to high schools in November — just in time for Fayetteville-Manlius coordinator of music David Brown to select it as this year’s spring musical.
The musical, with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, opened on Broadway in April 2007 and played in Syracuse in November 2010.
Members of the F-M community who saw last year’s production of Claude-Michel Schönberg’s “Les Miserables,” a tragic tale of redemption and revolution set in early 19th-century France, will be in for a different experience, to say the least, when “Legally Blonde” opens at 7 p.m. Friday, March 16 at the high school. More performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, and March 23 and 24.
“We did a very dark production last year,” Brown explained as one of three reasons “Legally Blonde” was a “slam dunk” choice for F-M. “I was looking for something lighter and comedic.”
Another reason was that he, personally, enjoys finding new and modern musicals, “and I think the students really embrace the pop style of shows,” he said.
Brown also chose it to help showcase F-M’s wealth of talented female actors.
“The third reason was it was a very large female role production, and most productions these days, and in the old days, were all heavily cast for men and not women,” he said.
This isn’t to say audience members won’t see more than a few young men hamming it up on stage this weekend and next.
“But what usually happens is there’s nothing for women, and this one has a lot of [roles for] women and men,” Brown said.
The kids have responded with great enthusiasm, starting in November when the musical was first announced.
“There were about 140 students in the room and they just screamed in excitement,” Brown said.
“It’s been a really easy process,” he added. “I think because [the kids] were so jazzed about the show and they were so invested in this high energy, high impact show, they just have been great to rehearse with. They’re prepared, they’re energetic — it’s really been an exciting process.”
The musical centers around a sorority girl named Elle Woods who “doesn’t take ‘no for an answer,” according to a plot synopsis posted on the F-M Music Department’s website. “So when her boyfriend dumps her for someone ‘serious,’ Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law.”
Brown describes it as almost identical to the movie, but with musical numbers added.
“[The audience] will literally see the movie come to life on stage,” he said.
Between the cast, stage crew and pit orchestra, about 140 students are involved in the production, which has a cast of 80. Natalie Maier stars as Elle Woods, the character played in the film by Reese Witherspoon, and Casey Konys stars as Luc Wilson’s character, Emmet, the Harvard law school student who catches Elle’s eye.
Brown, now in his fifth year directing and producing shows at F-M, has enjoyed preparing students to perform a musical that no other school in the area has done.
“[It’s] great. I actually like that,” he said. “Because it gives us a fresh perspective … there’s really nothing to compare it to, either for the production staff or the community.”
Of course, audience members could compare the students’ staging of ‘Legally Blonde’ to one they might see on Broadway — a comparison Brown says wouldn’t be far off.
“I remember people coming to ‘Les Miz’ last year and saying this was a professional production, and that’s what we will give them,” Brown said. “We have professional sets, professional lights, professional singers and actors and dancers, and the orchestra is bar none … What you will get for $10 is a Broadway-like show.”
Tickets to “Legally Blonde” can be purchased online or from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12 to 16 and March 19 to 23 at the high school’s House I foyer.