by Kimi Pichardo, Secondary Drama teacher
In less than two weeks, our hard-working high school cast of Legally Blonde will transform Tanner Auditorium into another world - this time, the life of Elle Woods. It’s surprising to me that Elle’s story - the story of Legally Blonde - is not talked about and celebrated more than it is. At its core, Legally Blonde is the story of “an incredibly intelligent young woman coming into her own and realizing her own potential”. Perhaps teenagers already know this, which could be the reason we had an unprecedented number of auditionees for this year’s musical. The teenage experience is synonymous with “coming into one’s own” and “realizing one’s own potential.” Here at YIS we talk a great deal about Learner Profile traits and Approaches to Learning Skills, but in many ways, like the nascent story behind Legally Blonde, the students’ hard work and growth are not always obvious to the larger YIS community. However, the arduous task of producing a musical, especially one as challenging as this one, provides opportunity for students to realize their own potential. Below are a few stories of how students in drama productions have reached new heights in their skills and talents.
Two of our leads in this year’s musical, Angelina and Louis, both auditioned for Little Shop of Horrors two years ago, but were cast in ensemble roles. Louis, in fact, was one of only a handful of boys who auditioned and perhaps could have been shocked and surprised when he was not cast as the lead role of Seymour. As he sings “Chip on [His] Shoulder” in Legally Blonde, you will see that his pursuit of his goal didn’t involve him carrying a chip on his own shoulder. Angelina and Louis continued to follow their passion for music and singing through their IBDP Music classes and by taking private singing lessons outside of school. That determination has paid off - they will be shining as two of our leads this year.
Another of our cast members, Trey, is no stranger to a stage. He has performed many times throughout his YIS experience in assemblies, at Food Fair, and in previous Drama productions. However, in our last musical Little Shop of Horrors, Trey did not audition for a lead role, citing he “wasn’t a singer.” His love for musical theatre and performance kept him singing along to Broadway greats such as Jonathan Groff and Christian Borle and his practice and persistence paid off in a stand out moment in auditions as he astounded his peers with his adept command of his vocals.
Some of our performers auditioned merely because of their friends’ persuasion. In Elle’s story, she wants to follow her ‘one true person’ Warner to Harvard Law, but isn’t the typical applicant. However, her friends at sorority Delta Nu encourage her to ‘attempt the impossible’ and help her achieve her lofty goal. Students Avantika, Erica, and Sophia hoped to hide themselves in the ensemble of the musical. Each of them overcame their own challenges with shyness in front of large groups in order to audition and many did so only as a way to cease the constant nagging of their friends. However, the positive energy and stage presence of Avantika landed her a supporting role and Erica and Sophia’s singing skill resulted in character roles with solos.
The performers of Legally Blonde come to the YIS stage this year with a varied background of abilities and previous performance experience, however, each individual’s story demonstrates risk-taking and determination equal to that of the journey of Elle Woods. From persevering to achieve one’s goals, to overcoming personal obstacles such as performance anxiety or shyness, to changing one’s opinion about their own skills and abilities, the power of believing in yourself and finding support in your community of friends is something we can all use more of as we live, learn, and lead together. Elle Woods puts it best - “Being true to yourself never goes out of style.”
Come see the talented cast of this year's high school musical, Legally Blonde, on Jan., 30, Jan. 31 and Feb 1, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, and Feb. 1, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm.