More than 60 students are participating in the winter musical as members of the cast, crew, or show band, continuing a strong upward trend in student involvement with St. Andrew’s theater productions. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2002 MGM movie starring Reese Witherspoon, "Legally Blonde" tells the story of plucky Elle Woods, played by freshman Charlotte Lobring, as she tries to win back her man by following him to Harvard Law School. Elle’s love interests, Warner Huntington III and Emmett Richmond, are played by sophomores David Stevenson and Oliver Bush, respectively.
Ritchie Porter, drama teacher and “Legally Blonde” director, said the casting policy for St. Andrew’s plays and musicals is based on merit.
“If a role comes down to two actors who are very close in what they can bring to the part, we often go with the older student, who won't have as many opportunities to perform on our stages. However, if an underclassman is clearly the best fit for a character, they are awarded the part,” Porter said. “Everyone understands that we are trying to put on the best show possible with performers who can bring the most to every role.”
Charlotte, David, and Oliver, who all played lead or supporting roles in the fall play, “Our Town,” agree that they felt encouraged by their peers as they stepped into their roles, describing a family atmosphere in the theater group that balances friendly competition with unconditional support.
“I didn’t know what to expect, coming to a new school, but I feel like it’s such an honor for me to have such a big role and to be with these people who are so happy for me and there to support me,” Charlotte said.
“Everyone is supportive of what everyone gets. No one has said, ‘Oh, he doesn’t deserve that role,’” Oliver said. “It’s much more, we understand that we have been given this responsibility and we want to help each other fulfill that to the greatest extent.”
“Seeing that not only the directors were confident I could play a role like Warner, but also the rest of the cast, my friends, have that trust in me, it motivates you to do your best,” David said. “It is a family vibe. If you don’t hold up your end of the show, it won’t work. That's why everyone has trust in each other. That's why it will be a good show.”
Many juniors and seniors who played leads in past shows are taking on supporting roles in “Legally Blonde.” Senior Caroline Milne, who plays Vivienne Kensington, said she is impressed with the underclassmen and has enjoyed performing alongside them as scene partners.
“I think it’s great to see there is so much talent in the underclassmen,” Caroline said. “When we leave next year the theater and music department will be in such great hands.”
Senior Leia Terrenzi, who is the show’s assistant director and plays one of Elle’s best friends, Serena McGuire, said the casting philosophy creates opportunities she could not have imagined as an underclassman – as a sophomore, Leia played a lead, Mother Superior, in “Sister Act.”
“I was baffled to come in sophomore year and get a lead,” Leia said. “Charlotte is so entirely deserving of it. She is so talented in singing, acting, and dancing. I'd like to think it shows we base casting off talent and skill rather than biases or seniority.”
Charlotte, David, and Oliver said they’re committed to modeling the support they have experienced for students who will join the St. Andrew’s Players in future years and play big roles, too.
“When we become upperclassmen, we want to show the exact same encouragement as they’ve shown us,” Charlotte said.
Showtimes are Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. in MacDonald Hall. Runtime is about 2.5 hours with intermission. Tickets are available at the door: $3 for students/seniors and $7 general admission. The Saturday matinee is free for all students from any school.