Now that Valentine’s Day has faded over the horizon, what better way to restock on your quota of pink amid the onslaught of St. Patrick’s Day merchandize than with Champaign Park District Youth Theater’s performance of Legally Blonde Jr.?
Harvard’s beloved blonde takes the stage by glittery pink storm in this fun and upbeat musical. Legally Blonde Jr. is a youth adaptation of the fabulously fun, international award-winning musical. Based on the adored movie, it follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal in pursuit of her dreams. This musical extravaganza explodes on the stage with memorable songs and dynamic dances. According to the production’s website, “this musical is so much fun, it should be illegal!”
The musical’s director Patty Dudley gives us a closer at look at what exciting courtroom drama and dances to expect from the show. After that, a couple of the cast members reflect on this experience.
Smile Politely: What made Legally Blonde, Jr. appealing to you?
Patty Dudley: The music is pleasantly upbeat and is the genre of music the students listen to. The story is a good life lesson: to have courage, follow your dream and never quit until you reach your goal. A great lesson for anyone to learn.
SP: How does this version differ from the original production? Specifically, did you keep “Bend and Snap” or have to revise it in any way?
PD: We made sure “Bend and Snap” was appropriate for this age group. It is not sexually suggestive, but a wonderful dance number. There are about 5 songs excluded from the original version and many songs in Legally Blonde Jr. have been shortened. The show is 60 minutes long.
SP: What challenges did you face while directing the play?
PD: There are a lot of locations in the story, so the set was challenging.
SP: What do you hope the audience will take away from the performance?
PD: I hope the audience has fun and walks out of the theater humming the catchy songs from the show. The message is loud and clear. The lead character, Elle, has achieved what she set out to do even though people stereotyped her, not putting value on her character because of how she looked.
Patty was kind enough to put us in touch with the 8th graders playing the three leads: Maddie as Elle, William as Emmett, and Estella as Paulette. They gave their thoughts on the production, below.
SP: How would you describe your character in your own words?
Maddie: My character, Elle Woods, is a fun loving, bubbly, caring person. She always follows her heart.
William: He’s a nerdy guy who has his own sense of humor that no one else gets. He’s a workaholic–if you give him an assignment he is going to work on it till its done. He’s socially oblivious.
Estella: Paulette is kind of a crazy character. She tries to only show how crazy she is and tries not to let her sensitive side show. She is also self-conscious and that holds her back from getting the guy she likes.
SP: What was your favorite part of playing your character? What was the most challenging part?
William: I love that Emmett’s always on stage…because in rehearsals I get to hang out with everyone in the show…and even though I don’t always have lines, it helps me to be there rehearsing all the time. The most challenging part is having to interact in sensual ways with Maddie.
Estella: My favorite part of playing Paulette is being in the song, “Bend and Snap” because of how fun the number is. The hardest part of playing Paulette is always having a dialect, especially while singing the song, “Ireland.”
Maddie: My favorite part of playing this character is that she’s a lot like myself and she is very funny. The most challenging part is dealing with the stress of having this role, but I love a challenge, and I love this part more than any other one I’ve ever played!
SP: In your opinion, what’s the number one reason to see the play?
Estella: People should come see Legally Blonde, Jr. because it is a fun show and we have worked really hard to make it a show you won’t forget.
William: Maddie. Definitely, Maddie. I’ve seen Maddie in seven roles, all the way back to Pinocchio in Shrek and I think this is some of her best work.
Maddie: The number one reason you should see this play is that it’s heartwarming and fun, but has a very important message/theme!
Legally Blonde Jr. will be playing at The Virginia Theatre (203 W. Park Ave.) from March 3rd- 5th at 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. all days, with an additional showing at 2 p.m. on March 5th. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under, and free for ages 2 and under. Advance tickets are available at thevirginia.org, the Virginia Theatre box office, or by calling 217-356-9063.
Shelly Chang is a Smile Politely writer for the Arts and Culture sections who drinks too much coffee and needs some book recommendations. Tweet her some @shellychangsp.