NAHS students to perform musical with a message
New Albany High School drama students are learning how to overcome stereotypes through Legally Blonde: The Musical, according to Elliott Lemberg, director of the production.
"The show ties in with one of the school's goals to improve student culture," Lemberg said. "It combats stereotypes and celebrates diversity. (The main character, Elle,) is not just a blonde; she's resourceful, strong willed and she's not willing to give up. She continues to work and persevere."
Legally Blonde: The Musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 15-17, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road in New Albany.
Admission is $12 for adults and $7 for school staff members, senior citizens and students. Tickets are available at www.napls.us and at the door the day of the show.
Legally Blonde tells the story of Elle Woods, a young woman who disproves her critics at Harvard Law School by helping to win a court case. It is based on a book by Heather Hach with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Neil Benjamin.
Lemberg said Legally Blonde has everything the school was looking for in a production this year. It boasts the drama department's largest cast ever at 53, it has a strong message and it is a lot of fun, Lemberg said.
"This is the biggest cast we've ever had by far," Lemberg said. "Typically in a musical we cast 30 to 40. This show has a really large chorus in it.
"We cast a lot of students, which provides a lot of student opportunities."
Senior Ellen Martin, who plays Elle, said the role isn't a stretch for her. After playing the dark bully Velma in Chicago last year, she said, the upbeat, sometimes silly Elle is a welcome change.
But her challenge is to show all aspects of the character, not just the light, bubbly side. The 18-year-old also said the performance -- and the fact that she's on stage during 90 percent of the production -- is exhausting.
"I hope people come to see it," Martin said. "It's totally worth it. It's a family-friendly play, and one of my favorites. It's so much fun to watch."
Elle develops a relationship at law school with Emmett, played by senior Austin Cavalancia.
Emmett also is a bit serious, Cavalancia said, but that's the challenge for him.
"I've done some dark stuff (in Chicago) but this is a challenge because you're trying to portray a character that is serious but also has a comical feature to it," he said.
Cavalancia started working on stage crews in local theater productions and it was Martin who encouraged him to try out for his first junior musical .
"Ellen talked me into doing my first musical. I was the Beast in Beauty and the Beast," he said. "I love the whole concept of a musical. It brings out both the really cool side of acting and the really cool side of singing and puts them together."
Musicals are Martin's favorite productions, as well.
"I've been singing eight years now, since I discovered my voice," she said. "I prefer singing in musicals over drama."
Both said they'd like to continue acting in the future though it is not a career path for either. Martin plans to study nursing and Cavalancia wants to work in air-traffic management.
There are 12 students working to help build sets for the show and both adults and students will play in the orchestra pit under the direction of Darren Falk during the performance.
Karrie Horton will coach the singers and Nikki Tuller and Chrissy Danflous of the Broadway Bound Dance Centre choreographed the show.
Jessica Nettler is the technical director and Melissa Schill is the managing director of the performance. Jon Gillie is the guest lighting designer and Barbara Leeman and Billy Antil are designing the costumes.