Written by: Ian Haubert, junior.
The first time I watched the Holly High Theatre Department’s rendition of the hit musical Legally Blonde, I was fortunate enough not to have any idea what it was about. Rather than a step down from Broadway, it was a step up from the various scheduling and academic assemblies that account for the majority of the time I spend in the auditorium. More importantly, it was a far more entertaining and engaging production than anything I had expected from a high school theatre program. Though I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, what I do know is that I was willing to pay admission twice and sit through two-and-a-half shows to relive the corny gags and ridiculous musical numbers, and I could still go for more.
I will admit that I walked out of both showings wondering why I enjoyed them so much. I wasn’t a big fan of the plot, and I probably won’t bother watching the movie or the professional performance. Also, the sorority girls kind of got on my nerves (at no fault of the actresses). It just wasn’t my genre, and I don’t relate to the desire or the lifestyles the story revolves around. Still, somehow, I found myself either moved or laughing out loud several times. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I even saw it again the next day, like I said.
I enjoyed last year’s musical several times, as well–and free of charge, as I was part of the pit orchestra–but I was a couple years younger than most of the actors then, and they were almost as unfamiliar to me as would be Broadway’s Anthony Rapp and Stanley Wayne Mathis. For all I knew, they had been acting all their lives. The training they had gone through must have been beyond anything I had experienced. They were out of my league. They weren’t my peers.
It was somewhat shocking, then, this year, to see people my own age, some without much or any singing or acting experience, people whom I didn’t know how to envision breaking free of our mundane school life, performing with just as much confidence and abandon as I remember from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Though the plot of the play was reasonably predictable and cliché, I never saw the kind of dedication these people would give to their production coming. Dedication is to be expected with all the money flowing into professional theatre, but it is absolutely fascinating when it exists for its own sake, apart from any real financial incentive. It was nothing short of inspirational to see that kind of dedication in people who have had acting and singing experience almost as minimal as my own. I suppose that’s why I laughed, for the most part; aside from a few clever quips and twists on the part of the writers, I was mostly amused at how tangible the prospect of me being up on the stage with the actors, playing another one of those silly characters, suddenly seemed. For me, the entertainment value of the production was not in the genius of its writers, for whom actors are a mere medium, but in the way all the actors were able to give an old story new life, flavored with the unique blend of all the individual quirks and talents the cast brought to the table, and it was hilarious.
It will be hard to forget Anna Webner’s nasally “Oh my God!” Elle Woods, Seth Mrazik’s perfect expression of false sympathy as the insensitive Warner Huntington III, Maddie Elliott’s outlandish accent as Paulette the hairdresser, and the subtly comedic expressions and inflections of even the smaller characters, such as Dewey, Brendan the UPS guy and Grandmaster Chad. Every cast member sold it; they were invested and they were bold, and I look forward seeing those who won’t be graduating in the next Holly musical.