City Circle Acting Co. presents “Legally Blonde the Musical”

BY EMMA McCLATCHEY | JULY 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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“Omigod you guys!” The sorority-girl antics and fast-paced energy of Legally Blonde the Musical will fill the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts stage as a part of the City Circle Acting Company’s summer programming.

The comedic musical will premiere Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and show Sunday at 2 p.m. Based on the popular film with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, stage manager Jason Arnold said this contemporary show differs greatly from some of the more traditional musicals City Circle has performed, such as West Side Story or Guys and Dolls.

“Legally Blonde is definitely a new American musical,” Arnold said. “It’s not like your classic musical with the long songs and big orchestra with strings. I mean, it’s based on a movie that is pretty funny and not taken quite seriously, and I think the writers of the musical knew that. The humor is embedded in each song and in all of the dialogue, whichs makes it fun, though there are serious moments.”

Directed by Brett Myers and starring young actors from all over Iowa City and Coralville, Regina student Tyler Jensen, who plays Warner in the show, said he found Legally Blonde to be a relevant selection.

“It’s a musical for our generation, and I think that makes it easy to connect with and accessible for a larger audience,” he said. “It’s just a very energetic and upbeat show that’s very funny too.”

Legally Blonde the Musical focuses on Elle Woods, a UCLA fashion major who follows a straying love to Harvard Law School in an effort to demonstrate her “seriousness.” This starring role will be played by Victoria Vaughn, a recent Regina High School graduate.

“Elle is obviously a very bubbly blonde sorority girl who’s kind of what every stereotypes as the dumb blonde,” Vaughn said. “But the show kind of works to show that she’s more than a dumb blonde. She’s this girl trying to find her way just like everybody else, and she does that by going to Harvard Law and proving that staying true to yourself never goes out of style.”

Vaughn said, although Elle wears a lot of pink while Vaughn prefers blue, she found she had a lot in common with her character.

“I am all about having friendships based on friendships like she does with her sorority girls and being true to myself and always supporting other people, so I think that’s a way I relate to Elle.”

West High graduate Hannah Rublaitus, who plays Elle’s mentoring hairstylist Paulette, said she found Elle’s situation to be relatable as well.

“Most of us are going into college, so we can relate to that,” she said. “One of the easiest things was our costumes: pretty much our costume ladies said, ‘Well, these people are your age, so can just go through your closet and grab some things and bring them over.’”

And Jensen said the relationships forged between cast and crew are comparable to the bonds Elle develops with her friends in the story.

“We’ve come to be like a family,” he said. “I’ve been performing with some of these people since I was 14 and I go to school with a lot of them, so it makes it even more fun that I’m close with a lot of people in the cast. We’re a really young cast, too, but they’re all stepping up into these roles, which makes it a really great experience.”

Arnold said he agreed the cast, about half of whom were completely new to the stage, have worked well together.

“I think it’s really cool to see because we have the veterans kind of showing the younger kids the ropes and it’s a really good way for them to get involved with the community,” he said. “As a member of City Circle it’s really cool to see that there’s a future for the company and that these younger kids are going to start getting involved and doing more and more shows.”

Rublaitus, who plans to major in performing arts at Iowa State University this year, says community theater groups such as City Circle have given her valuable life experience.

“I’ve been doing [community theater] since I was six and it got me to fall in love with theater,” she said. “I really appreciate it and all that I’ve learned about how to make friends and communication skills. Legally Blonde was such a challenge to do because it’s such a big show, so I learned a lot from it.”

Now participating in his sixth show with City Circle, Jensen said the program has been a great vehicle to further his development in musical theater.

“I think it’s really cool that they give an opportunity for teenagers to perform in professional theater,” he said. “They always have great directors and they have given me many mentors. That’s really why I keep coming back: it’s helped me grow as a performer.”

As for the show, Jensen believes audiences will respond well to the young cast’s performance.

“I think the audience will be really surprised actually. I think a lot of times Iowa City underestimates the talent that we have here because people think we’re just a small town in Iowa, but there’s so much talent in this show that I don’t people have ever really seen in Iowa City yet. For example, I think people will be in awe of our Elle, because she is incredible.”

And though Vaughn said she is nervous for the premiere, she said City Circle’s consistent “welcoming” nature and “cast dynamic” have made starring in Legally Blonde a thoroughly worthwhile experience.

“I just couldn’t do another show without being a part of City Circle,” she said. “Because it’s a very high-energy show, there’s a lot of great, upbeat music. I think no matter what the age or the gender, everyone’s going to love it.”

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