Staff Photo by Nic Cazin
For Wake Forest High School, their spring production is a musical take of the hit 2001 movie Legally Blonde. Both the movie and show follow Elle Woods on her journey of self-growth, battling stereotypes and going to Harvard Law for love. The actors in the high school production have been rehearsing for ten weeks and are ecstatic to put on the show in front of a live audience.
The high school kicked off its theatre season in the fall with the Harry Potter comedy Puffs. However, Legally Blonde is a vastly different choice. Kristen Rendina, the drama teacher and director at WFHS, chose this show for a reason.
“There are always ‘leading ladies’ but the protagonist and final bow is usually a male role,” Rendina said. “I wanted to have the final bow be a female role.”
Brooke Willse, a senior at WFHS, has been performing since she was in third grade. The triple threat is wrapping up her high school acting career by playing the lead role, Elle Woods.
“Seeing and hearing audience reactions is always an honoring experience,” Willse said. “The chance to give anybody a cathartic experience, whether it’s with laughter or tears, reminds me of the importance of arts.”
Ben Stanley is a sophomore at WFHS, and is playing alongside Willse as Emmett Forrest. This is his first major production and he is excited to show off his talent.
“My favorite thing about performing in the musical would be the friendships I made along the way,” Stanley said. “The people in the cast were so accepting of me and I wouldn’t be able to do this musical with the role I have without them.”
Legally Blonde, while it does have teachers overseeing everything, is mainly a student-led show. Brandon Leach, a senior at the school, is the student dance captain and helped choreograph all of the dance numbers alongside the dance teacher, Hallie Hoy. The actors all worked alongside the choir teacher and music director, Mary Robert McGrath, to make their songs incredible.
Junior Emma Briceno is the director alongside Rendina and has been at every rehearsal for the past ten weeks.
“The hardest part of my job would just be writing down the blocking for every actor,” Briceno said. “There are a lot of them and I have to remember where everyone and everything goes at any given time so as to ensure things run smoothly.”
The lighting designer, Faith Bobe, and the set designers, Skylar McLean and Abby Lawson, are also students at Wake Forest High School. While they are not in Rendina’s drama class, they are in the technical theatre class.
Technical theatre is everything that is happening behind the scenes of a production. There are people – known as ‘techies’ – who move the set pieces, run the lighting board, work the sound system and so much more.
Tim Domack runs the tech theatre program at WFHS and works alongside his students to create the best set and atmosphere for a production.
“I think in our case at Wake Forest, students have a chance for artistic freedom,” Domack said. “They take a lot of pride in building a production and coming to see it or running the production knowing there are hundreds of people viewing your art on stage [who] will never know it’s you.”
The cast and crew of Legally Blonde have dedicated the last couple of months to make this production something worth seeing. The tech crew has worked tirelessly to make the set something they’re excited to show off. The actors have perfected their dances and songs so much the audience will feel like they’re watching a Broadway show.
“The songs are beautiful, the story is heartwarming, and the actors’ performances are amazingly powerful and immersive,” Briceno said. “Tech has been working hard and while they don’t usually get credit where it’s due, it is obvious how much work they too have put in.”
If you are interested in seeing this musical, you can see Legally Blonde at Wake Forest High School on March 24, 25, 26, 31 and April 1 and 2 at seven each night. Tickets are being sold in person and on the Wake Forest Theatre Company ticketing website.
“Legally Blonde holds a special place in my heart,” Willse said. “Female empowerment, believing women, and believing in women are all themes I hope the audience can take home with them after the show.”