VHS Goes Legally Blonde

Elle and Emmett
Kristin Gustavson (as Elle Woods) and her co-star Cassidy O’Brien (Emmett Forrest), in the Vicksburg High School musical, LEGALLY BLONDE. Photo by Mekena Seaver.

By Leeanne Seaver

There’s more than meets the eyeliner in Legally Blonde, the Vicksburg High School spring musical opening Friday, March 13. It’s a spunky, heartwarming morality play about sorority president Elle Woods who overcomes stereotypes and scandal to discover her own self-worth and true love.

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. on the 13th, and at the same hour on March 14 and 21, closing on Sunday, March 22 with a 2 p.m. matinee.

Fresh from the Kalamazoo Civic’s Shrek, The Musical as teen Fiona, sophomore Kristin Gustavson inhabits Elle brilliantly with Bruiser, the ever-present pooch crooked in her arm. It’s a far-cry from being the Dragon in VHS’s 2014 production of Shrek, but another showcase for Gustavson’s diversity as an actress.

Legally Blonde sings and dances its way through Elle’s transformation from heartbroken airhead to Harvard Law School valedictorian. Her evolution gives the story its substance. From arm-candy to the snobby BMOC, Warner Huntington III (a suave Seamus Hyman adds polish here) to real love with the sensitive, down-to-earth Emmett Forrest (delivered in an intelligent and authentic performance by junior Cassidy O’Brien), this brains-over-beauty comedy is based on a 2001 award-winning comedy originally starring Reese Witherspoon.

IMG_4389Kristin
Kristin Gustavson and Bruiser the chihuahua star in LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical at Vicksburg High School. Photo by Mekana Seaver.

Melissa Sparks, the multi-talented dynamo who is director/choreographer, says Legally Blonde is “relevant, and important for our high school students. At its core is a message about seeing the good in everyone, and not judging others based on appearance. Often in today’s society, we see cases of bullying due to social or economic status. Elle Woods defies all that. She shows that it’s possible to ignore the naysayers; she challenges the odds and proves herself to be powerful and intelligent—as capable as she is beautiful.”

Cassidy O’Brien plays Emmett who he describes as “exciting but complex. He provides a unique kind of energy to the show, with a motivation only his character can really portray. Overall, I find Emmett an enjoyable but challenging role to play.”

Kristin Gustavson’s favorite part about being Elle “is the fact that she is such a positive influence and role model. She’s an example of someone who doesn’t give up on her goals and dreams, which I truly admire. And she does it all with a smile on her face.”

Legally Blonde features a line-up of memorable tunes musically directed by Dustin Morris; high-energy choreography of Melissa Sparks; sets designed by Tim Fuller; and a colorwheel of costumes created by Susan “Mama-Lein” Leininger. A large, enthusiastic student cast of characters includes Paulette the hairdresser (beautifully styled by senior Amanda Wilson); the pompous Professor Callahan (portrayed with attitude by Alex Cannizzaro); and the very fit, fan-devoted Brooke Wyndham (executed flawlessly by Michaela Oesterle). Tickets are on sale now at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center on-line at https://www.centerstageticketing.com/sites/vicksburg/ or by calling 269-321-1193.

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