How many people would actually care about what happens to a gorgeous, rich, blonde girl who gets dumped by her boyfriend? Or even better, root for her? Thanks to the 2001 movie “Legally Blonde,” many people are familiar with the fictional story of Elle Woods, a Malibu, Ca. sorority queen, who is dumped by her serious boyfriend, Warner, and follows him to Harvard Law School to win him back.
But did you know a Broadway musical production, inspired by the novel of the same name and smash movie, opened in 2007 and “Legally Blonde: The Musical” will be premiering this weekend at the Old Opera House in Charles Town?
Directed by David Porterfield, with musical direction by Charles Johnson and choreography by Christine Galante, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is an upbeat, high energy musical with a cast featuring more than 20 performers, including several current Shepherd students and Shepherd alumni.
Shepherd alumnus Ashley Snow stars as Woods, the supposedly dumb blonde, who discovers she is equally savvy with both fashion and legal smarts.
“Elle is a large role and it is a lot to piece together. She evolves so much throughout the show. It is a large challenge but a pleasure,” said Snow.
Though the story focuses on Wood’s journey at Harvard, the supporting cast and other characters feature prominently in “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” Woods originally journeys to Harvard to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner (played by Adam Blackstock), only to find out he has a new perfectly serious girlfriend, Vivienne (played by Shepherd student Alora Ray). With the help of her friends, Emmett (played by Anthony Marchese) and Paulette (played by Holly Legg), Woods discovers she has a lot of legal smarts and much more to offer than just a pretty face, and even has the chance to defend her former sorority sister, Brooke Wyndham (played by Irina Price), in court.
“This is the first adult [musical comedy] show I’ve done at the Old Opera House and I’m working with a new crowd of people. It is so much fun and I’m so excited to open this show!” said Ray.
“Being onstage with so many people I’ve worked with before brings so much more fun and joy to the process,” said Snow.
The large cast also plays many different ensemble roles throughout the show, varying from sorority girls, students and band members to prison inmates, department store salespeople and courtroom spectators, to name only a few. In addition, the musical also expands several minor characters from the movie to larger roles. Woods’ sorority friends, Margot, Serena and Pilar, are given much larger roles to sing in tight harmonies as a trio and dance throughout the show as Woods’ mental “Greek chorus” while at Harvard.
“I’m getting used to the big Broadway musical sound and belting like crazy. It has been a learning experience for me and really different,” said Emily Reinhardt, a current Shepherd student who plays Pilar.
The musical is filled with many high-energy song and dance numbers featuring many members of the cast. The music and dancing draw from a variety of styles, including reggae, hip-hop, pop, funk, and even traditional Irish music and step dance.
“Remembering all of the dances has been challenging. There are so many and they are so intense that it takes a lot of memory,” said Edgar Conn, a Shepherd alumnus who plays Carlos and several ensemble roles throughout the show.
“It is interesting to work on so many high-energy, fast paced musical numbers. It’s challenging maintaining the same high level of energy throughout the show,” said Shepherd alumnus Alan Harner who plays Woods’ dad and various ensemble roles.
In addition to hilarious scenes and huge musical numbers, the musical also features live animals onstage. Woods’ chihuahua, Bruiser, and Paulette’s bulldog, Rufus, will be played by live dogs.
“A great experience has been sharing the stage with my dog, Pee Wee [playing Bruiser]. He has a lot of fun being on stage,” said Conn.
“This show is most fun you’ll have this year. Don’t miss it!” said Ray.
“It is a whole lot of fun with a very talented cast. It’s great to support a local gem of a theater at the Old Opera House,” said Snow.
“The musical isn’t just funny. It really draws you in emotionally and is a great musical. Any person would enjoy it,” said Reinhardt.
Legally Blonde will run Thursday, Sept. 12 through Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Old Opera House, located at 204 N. George Street, Charles Town, WV. The Thursday performance is at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinee performance is at 2:30 p.m. Student tickets are $10 for all performances.