Going Blonde

GV students in Legally Blonde

By Becky Spaulding and Mary Mattingly | 6/2/13 7:04am


Courtesy / Latara Appleby / MLive.com
Breighanna Minnema, who plays Elle Woods in the stage production of Legally Blonde hosted at the Civic Theatre in Grand Rapids, MI.

Get ready to go blonde—Legally Blonde the Musical opens May 31 at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and will run through June 16. This is the first time the musical will run on the Civic’s stage and, even better, features three Grand Valley State University students in prominent roles.

“I fell in love with Legally Blonde in high school when I went to see the musical at the Wharton Center,” said Katie Tamayo, one of the student performers. “Since seeing it, I have always wanted to perform in the show.”

The musical, which brings Elle Wood’s law school saga to life, has been in the works for the past month and a half. Enduring late night rehearsals, long hours and intense choreography lessons, Tamayo, Molly Jones and Caitlin Cusack are ready for opening night. Tamayo and Jones play Elle’s sorority sisters Pilar and Margot, respectively, while Cusack plays several roles, including the court stenographer and part of the Greek chorus. Acting in community productions such as this is a strong introduction to the world of performing professionally.

Both Tamayo and Cusack have extensive performance credits on the GVSU stage. This past school year, both were cast in The Threepenny Opera and The Good Person of Setzuan. Jones also has performance experience both in Chicago and in Grand Rapids. Some of her past local theatre credits include Let It Be at the Circle Theatre and Reefer Madness, in which she played Mary Lane. While this is Tamayo and Jones’ debuts on the Civic Theatre stage, Cusack is returning after playing Vibrata in last year’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

“I was impressed then with the quality of production,” Cusack said of her experience in Forum. “(I) continue to be impressed with the phenomenal costumes, sets, cast and crew members in Legally Blonde.”

Legally Blonde has proven to be unlike any other show the actresses have been a part of.

“Each scene moves seamlessly into the other, meaning quicker and more subtle set changes and a tight time schedule,” Cusack said. “Because of this, a lot of actors have to help on moving sets. It’s only stressful when I have quick changes. For instance, I have to change from a Harvard law student to a Delta Nu Greek Chorus girl in under a minute.”

The characters are also decidedly modern and varied. The actresses play every role from silly sorority sister to serious law student.

“[Pilar] is one of Elle’s three best friends,” Tamayo said. “Pilar is the sassy one of the bunch.”
Cusack has many characters to explore, playing “a Delta Nu girl, part of the Greek Chorus, a Harvard law student and the Court Stenographer.”

Legally Blonde the Musical stands out from other modern shows due to its familiar story and catchy soundtrack.

“Legally Blonde is different from any other show I’ve done because it is so high energy,” Cusack said. “No matter how tired or crabby I am before I get on stage in this show, the moment the drums and music starts for the opening number, I have no choice but to get excited.”

The experience of being a part of this musical has been rewarding, both through performance and through new friendships.

“Our entire cast is fantastic because of how positive everyone is,” Cusack said. “It’s truly amazing to be a part of such a kind, fun-loving, friendly cast. Our relationships off stage surely lend for a better performance on stage.”

Tamayo agreed. “The cast of Legally Blonde is phenomenal,” she said. “We have all meshed so incredibly well. Within a week or so everyone was hanging out outside of rehearsals. We have all definitely grown to love each other like a family and that portrays well on stage.”

The show has been a good experience for the actresses who want to perform professionally. While Jones, who took a few years off after high school to participate in Chicago’s community theatre scene, is now working toward a career in occupational therapy, Tamayo and Cusack both hope to pursue careers in the performance field. This experience is only a stepping stone.

“I am truly honored and blessed to be a part of this production,” Tamayo said.

For more information about show times and to purchase tickets, visit the Civic Theatre’s website at http://www.grct.org/index.html.

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