There’s an element of reality to Shoreline Community School’s upcoming musical production of Legally Blonde Jr.
Tayler Guy, who plays the lead character, Harvard law student and California “valley girl” Elle Woods; Connor Zawacki, who stars as fellow student and Elle’s eventual love interest Emmett, and Katie Hall, who plays Elle’s best friend, Paulette, have been schoolmates since Kindergarten and are friends outside school.
That natural chemistry has helped the trio prepare for opening night tonight (May 21) in the production’s three-show run at Spectrum Community School theatre.
“We’ve kind of changed the characters to make them our own,” Hall says of the way director Tamara O’Reilly and choreographer Leah Moreau have worked with cast members on the script.
For Grade 8s more accustomed to just hanging out, performing theatre can present its challenges, too.
One of the final courtroom scenes requires Emmett and Elle to get almost nose to nose and very nearly kiss before being interrupted by the judge.
“We’ve been kind of wondering about that final scene; there’s definitely some awkward moments,” Zawacki says with a bashful grin.
The three, all veterans of Shoreline theatre projects, have clearly gotten into their roles and are able to describe their characters to a tee.
“I’m from Malibu and I’m obsessed with pink,” Guy says. “I’m a follower, but as soon as I meet Emmett, I start hardcore studying and doing well.”
Says Zawacki: “I’m somewhat shy and I have a very rough back story – my mom was into punk guys back in the day. I also stand up to the professor because he hits on Elle.”
Hall’s character, she says, comes from New Jersey and is “shy and introverted, but I can be a bit outgoing.”
All three find their confidence by the end, a point that the young actors voice pride in.
O’Reilly, a French Immersion teacher at the middle school who guides the theatre program as an extra-curricular activity, says this production is a “middle school appropriate” version – thus the “Jr.” in the title. Some of the more adult-oriented references have been replaced, but in general, the cast do a good job at interpreting the script, she says.
“This is a fun one for them to end their time at Shoreline on,” O’Reilly says.
Unlike some middle school productions, Legally Blonde Jr. is a “bigger, more complex musical” with a lot of choreography and movement, she says, crediting Moreau with helping bring it all together.
“A couple of the songs go through different locations, with costume changes,” O’Reilly says.
The actors are slated to do their first full dress rehearsal Monday, with set pieces moving around on stage. O’Reilly voices confidence they’ll be able to manoeuvre their way through while not missing a beat.
Opening night curtain is at 7 p.m., while subsequent shows happen Friday at 7 and Saturday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students, available at Shoreline school in View Royal, or at the door.