INTERVIEW: Get wigged with ‘Legally Blonde the Musical’
June 16, 2012 | 12:00 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 5:23 pm)
The award-winning Legally Blonde, the Musical is the popular story of Elle, who dares to apply – to her snooty ex-boyfriend’s shock and dismay – to Harvard School of Law, initially to get him back. She gets in, and all of Elle’s peers and colleagues are amazed when the Southern California Girl turns out to have some real grit in her, and her background gives her insight during a high-profile trial.
It may have been nearly as surprising when the fun, light-hearted film was made into a musical, but after it opened in London’s West End this show was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards. It won three – including Best Musical, and was also nominated for numerous Tony and Drama Desk Awards.
The musical – which a large cult following now – is slated to play the main stage at The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities from June 26 to July 15. Director Gavin Mayer says that local designer Mondo Guerra, winner of Project Runway: All Stars, is doing the costumes, and that there’s plenty of pink!
Since it sounds like this is gonna be one outrageously fun evening, we enlisted director Mayer to fill us in:
Is Legally Blonde, The Musical a reversal of the ‘dumb blond joke?’
I think it would be safe to say that a lot of people might assume that the show is a collection of blonde jokes with a snappy score. But in reality, this is a very “smart” show with a clever script and even more importantly, a great deal of heart.
From a director’s viewpoint, what drew you to this show?
What drew me to the show aside from the excuse to throw a bunch of pink on stage? The message: We get to watch Elle take a great journey in which she discovers she underestimated herself and is capable of much more than she ever thought she could be and, in turn, helps those she encounters realize the same about themselves.
Speaking of pink, tell me about the show’s look.
We have worked to make the show very colorful, and believe or not, are deliberately using the color pink very selectively. Brian Mallgrave has created an ingenious, whimsical and vibrant scenic design that parallels Elle’s journey as she overcomes her setbacks and the obstacles of stereotyping at both UCLA and Harvard. We are lucky to have Mondo Guerra back to design the costumes. Just like Brian, Mondo’s creativity never ceases to amaze me. Mondo, Brian and our fabulous lighting designer, Tonya Moake Neely, have all been collaborating to create a colorful world in which we see the vibrant pink start to permeate the atmosphere as Elle’s impact on the other characters’ lives becomes more apparent throughout her own journey.
Is this production aimed at a teenage female audience or is there something for a wider demographic?
I think this is a great show for everyone. The teenage girl is going to love this show for sure, but the story has depth and wit and anyone who sees the show is going to enjoy the book and music and, for sure will find at least one character in the show with whom they can relate.
Tell me about the cast. Are they all blonde, or are some of them a bit “wigged out?” Couldn’t you just dye? (Sorry).
You’re too good at the puns! I am thrilled with the cast. It’s exciting for me to finally have the chance to work with a number of actors I’ve had the pleasure of watching on stages across Denver over the past few years.
How would you describe the music?
The music has a great pop feel and a drive that pushes the show forward. The score has a great sense of humor that’s balanced with some very lovely, delicate moments. What’s great is that sometimes the more recent musicals don’t always have songs that theatergoers leave the theatre singing, but this show is an exception. There are more than a few catchy tunes that the audience will find themselves humming on their way home from the show.