Ballenas student Mackenzie Alexander, left front (playing Elle Woods) sings with her back-up dancers during a rehearsal of Legally Blonde the Musical at the school in early February. The play opens Feb. 14. — Adam Kveton Photo

Parksville school putting on Legally Blonde musical production

Story has a relevant message for the #MeToo era: director

Does a pretty, blonde sorority girl look like a would-be lawyer?

Eleven years after the premier of Legally Blonde the Musical, the world may still harbour those same stereotypes that say bubbly blondes who love to wear matching pink outfits just aren’t cut out for that profession, and various others (which, let’s be clear, has long since been disproven).

But as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements continue to grow, the relevance of taking on the cause of Elle Woods is not lost on Ballenas Secondary School students, who will be performing the musical at the school starting Feb. 14.

“I really like the empowerment message that’s going on in this play,” said teacher/director Doug Campbell.

When choosing a play to do a year ago, Campbell said he’d wanted something with a female protagonist, and so went with Legally Blonde.

He couldn’t have known then that the #MeToo movement (where many women and some men have been speaking out about their alleged sexual abusers — often men in powerful positions) and Time’s Up (an anti-sexual harassment movement founded by women in Hollywood, from actors to agents, which includes a legal defence fund and a push for equal pay) would be happening just as he’s introducing a new generation of high school students to Legally Blonde.

Though Campbell’s actors are all somewhat familiar with the movie, it’s not part of their social lexicon. Still, he said, “They were right with the theme of the show from the beginning.”

“This play is all about standing up for yourself,” he said, in addition to overcoming stereotypes. There’s even a part of the play that involves unwanted sexual advances from a man in power, mirroring many accounts of women speaking up as part of the #MeToo movement.

There are two young ladies playing the main character.

Grade 12 student Mackenzie Alexander will be making her theatre debut in the role. She said the experience has been “super exciting.” A blonde herself, Alexander said she’s enjoying playing someone who shows people she’s more than a caricature of a “dumb blonde.”

Asked about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, she said she’s aware of them, but said participating in a play like this has helped her to feel more directly connected to them.

Alexander’s understudy, Grade 9 student Navianna Martin, will have a chance to play Woods on stage in two of the six shows.

“It’s been such an exciting opportunity to work with such a great cast and do such a great role,” Martin said.

The musical will be performed Feb. 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 at the Whalebone Theatre in Ballenas school at 7 p.m. each day.

Tickets are $10 at the door or at the Ballenas online store at https://ybstore.friesens.com/stores/302050.

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