Sunday, February 25, 2018
Stage

Stage West summer production of 'Legally Blonde Jr.' opens this weekend

SPRING HILL — Elle is the stereotypical sorority girl, consumed by fashion, celebrities and where the next party is. Most people don't expect much from her. In fact, her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her right before leaving for Harvard Law School, claiming he needs someone "serious."

But nobody expects the bubbly and blond Elle Woods to take matters into her own hands, winning her own way into Harvard Law while on a mission to win back Warner.

Local audiences will have a chance to watch Elle embark on her journey and personal transformation when Legally Blonde Jr. opens this weekend at Stage West Community Playhouse.

"This show is not only fun, but also has a positive message," said director Jennifer Vilardi. "You can't judge a book by its cover. Things happen in (Elle's) life that changes who she is, for the better. All things in your life help shape who you are."

Legally Blonde Jr. is Stage West's summer teen production, based on the Hollywood film starring Reese Witherspoon and the hit Broadway musical. It is different from the Broadway show, with fewer songs and without the risque language.

The production is one that Vilardi specifically asked for and says she is glad she got to do. Assisting Vilardi are Steven Schildbach, as musical director, and choreographers Keith Meccia and Brianna Trier.

Kimberly Hagland stars as Elle Woods (understudy Paris Seaver also will perform one show) and Dakota Ruiz as Emmett Forrest, Elle's friend at Harvard.

"Both Kim and Dakota are extremely professional and talented," Vilardi said.

Other featured performers include: Matthew Romeo as Warner Huntington III, Bethany Bartlett as hairdresser Paulette Buonofonte, and Talia Jaeger as Warner's girlfriend, Vivienne Kensington. The cast and crew include 20 teens, as well as Holly, a chihuahua owned by Maureen Huff, which plays Elle's adorable and pampered Bruiser.

"The entire cast and crew are all really professional," Vilardi said. "I'm so impressed with them. They are always willing to stay and work after rehearsals end."

For those who only know the movie, the musical features some catchy songs and dance numbers. The teen production includes most of the original songs, including Serious, So Much Better, Whip into Shape and Legally Blonde.

"The whole scene when they perform Legally Blonde is pretty powerful," Vilardi said. "I don't want to give too much away, but it is definitely one of my favorites."

The song's lyrics include: "Some girls fight hard, some face the trial, some girls were just meant to smile." Elle proves that she is the girl who not only smiles, but also fights hard and faces the trial.

"Elle is actually a great role model," Vilardi said.

"If you liked the movie or the Broadway show, you'll love this just as much."

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