Students pumped to stage ‘modern’ musical
Fort Frances High School students are ready to hit the stage at the Townshend Theatre next week with the high-energy, fun-filled musical, “Legally Blonde.”
“This is the most modern show we’ve done,” said Susan De Gagne, teacher and stage director for the show, noting the musical first opened on Broadway in 2007.
The 50-member cast and crew will tell the story of Elle Woods (Ericka Tymkin), a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner (Gavin Moorhouse).
She ends up successfully defending exercise queen Brooke Wyndham (Paris Gauthier) in a murder trial.
Featuring music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, the musical is based on the novel “Legally Blonde” by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name.
The story is very similar to that of the movie, with all of the same characters, such as Emmet Forrest (David Loney), Paulette Buonofuonte (Larissa Desrosiers), Prof. Callahan (Lyle Dolph), Vivienne Kensington (Taylor Shouldice), and the girls of the Delta Nu sorority (Caitlin Sande, Trelawney Erwin, Phoebe Firth, Caitlin Hyatt, Cynthia Hudson, and Kennedy Latimer).
“The storyline is so much more real and relatable than musicals done in recent years,” said Tymkin. “For me, it’s different because I’m able to love who my character is, so it’s much easier to act.
“It’s a good feeling.”
“It’s a really funny show,” added Loney. “There are a lot of good scenes.
“Even though I’ve done them a million times, I still laugh.”
He also said the songs are really upbeat and there is a lot of enthusiasm from the cast.
“It’s also a very high-energy show,” said De Gagne. “Our number-one direction for the students is ‘more energy’ with any show we’ve done, but this one goes beyond any of the others.
“There are some softer moments, but they don’t last long,” she added.
“They’re always interrupted by someone with some sort of exciting news.”
De Gagne also said there are plenty of dance moves throughout the 22 songs.
“The choreography has also been awesome to watch as it all comes together,” she enthused, noting Trevor Barker is the choreographer for the production.
“He’s done a really fantastic job,” she remarked. “I don’t think any of us realized how much dancing there is in this show, but he’s certainly been up for the challenge.
“I think audiences will really enjoy seeing his work.”
De Gagne said one of the highlights of the show is the “Bend and Snap” number at the beauty salon.
“It is a memorable scene in the movie, and Trevor has made sure it will be in our show, too,” she pledged.
One of the personal highlights for De Gagne has been seeing all the different characters emerge as rehearsals go on.
“It can be tricky when you do a show that is based on a movie all of the cast has seen,” she conceded. “But the more we encourage them to develop their own characters rather than copying one from the movie, the better the show gets.
“I love seeing that develop.”
De Gagne said the students have been working really hard on the production, rehearsing Sunday afternoons, Wednesdays after school, and Fridays during lunch hour.
“They were able to pick up the lines quite quickly because the language is modern,” she explained, noting Tymkin nearly had the whole show memorized for auditions.
“Now many of the students know every line of the show,” she said.
Tymkin agreed the cast certainly will be ready for opening night.
“We are more than ready,” she stressed. “We just have to put the finished product together, with the costumes, props, and finished set.
“The next week will just give us time to perfect it.”
Loney said it’s a musical all ages will enjoy.
“But younger people will like it, in particular, because the songs are modern and upbeat,” he remarked.
De Gagne said the production probably would be rated ‘PG’ as most of the inappropriate language has been changed.
“We’re very thankful for everyone who has helped us,” said Tymkin, referring to De Gagne, Barker, stage director Heather Algie, music director Lisa Loney, and all the other teachers and parents who have assisted with sets, costumes, etc.
“They have put in so much time and effort,” she said. “We just show up and practise.
“If it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t be anything.”
“I’m really excited,” enthused Loney.
“It’s going to be a good four nights,” added Tymkin.
“Legally Blonde” runs May 2-5 at the Townshend Theatre, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the curtain rising at 7:30.
Advance tickets, available at Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, cost $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors.
Tickets, if they’re not sold out, only will be available at the door for that night’s performance.
“I hope everyone comes—twice,” De Gagne enthused. “It’s a really funny and high-energy show.
“It’ll be hard not to smile.”