Morristown High School Theatre has come up with the perfect production for Women’s History Month.
Legally Blonde, The Musical, is about a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it, with help from some girlfriends.
And the cast is chock full of talented actresses, starting with Anna Skelton, who plays Elle Woods, the pink-clad sorority sister played onscreen by Reese Witherspoon.
Skelton is a bubbly dynamo with volume to spare, and a quick-change artist, too. Her costumes fly almost as fast as the show’s catchy, uptempo numbers, as her Valley Girl character heads to Harvard Law School to woo ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III, played by Hugh Grennan.
Victoria Fanning gets the biggest laughs as Paulette Bonafonté, Elle’s dizzy-but-supportive hairdresser. She’s unlucky at love–until Elle and her all-female Greek Chorus teach her the finer points of the “Bend and Snap.”
This song-and-dance number is a highlight, and the lesson is not lost on Paulette, who puts her newfound skills to work reeling in a studly UPS man, played with “sign here!” swagger by Sean Armington.
Legally Blonde, The Musical
Morristown High School, 50 Early St.
March 23, 24, 25 at 7 pm, March 26 at 2 pm
Tickets: $8 to $15, mhstix.com
Kate Croonquist is another comedienne in the making; as a sorority sister she flashes bits of mischief reminiscent of her starring role in last year’s Once Upon a Mattress. Fiona Keefe is a tuneful sidekick and Aja Baitey steals a jump-rope scene with her athletic gifts.
Valeria Echavarria plays Enid, a street-smart gay law student, and Alexandra Dovano portrays Brooke Windham, a jailed fitness celebrity with an embarrassing secret, and a murder rap that the Harvard clique struggles to clear.
But the toughest role, according to Director Michael Maguire, is Vivienne Kensington, the snooty new object of Warner’s affection. Vivienne evolves the most during the story.
“It’s singing and acting, to show her development and arc, and it’s impossible for most high school students,” Maguire said. “Ally is outrageous.”
He is referring to senior Alexandra Monfalcone — the same young woman who lovingly coaxed a stage-struck 6th grader back onstage at Morristown Onstage earlier this month.
“To me, that’s what Morristown Theatre is all about,” said Maguire, an MHS alumnus. “It was so sweet.”
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin
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Many cast members, including Monfalcone, lead double- and triple lives. She juggles acting with competing on the school’s powerhouse swim team, and writing stories for this publication.
Skelton and her Legally Blonde co-stars Fanning and the silky-voiced Nile Birch won the audience choice award at Morristown Onstage with their rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine.
At the same time, Fanning was competing in a statewide poetry contest, and Birch was auditioning for a Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) production of West Side Story.
Last semester, Maguire ran rehearsals for two shows at once: The fall drama, You Can’t Take It With You, and Legally Blonde.
During that stretch, Skelton, Fanning and Birch also were singing with Broadway stars as part of MPAC’s Performing Arts Company.
Oh yes, and for the last six months, Skelton, a brunette, has been dying her hair blonde for the role of Elle Woods.
Legally Blonde is memorable for other reasons, too. It boasts $200,000 of lighting gear and wiring, courtesy of the Morris School District, with additional illumination from a Broadway lighting outfit.
Sets evoking Harvard were crafted by students with specialized fabrication equipment in the school’s new technology wing.
A 19-piece school orchestra is conducted by MHS graduate David Gallagher, while another alum, Emmy-nominated audio engineer Derek Vintschger, mentors the sound crew.
On Tuesday, the school presented its first “sensory friendly” show, for young viewers with autism.
It marked the first of six straight days (including a dress rehearsal for senior citizens) of Legally Blonde performances, a record for Morristown High School Theatre.
To spread the musical’s message (don’t judge a book by its cover; beauty begins inside), the drama group enlisted the Morris Educational Foundation to underwrite a photo project showcasing portraits of remarkable students.
Lastly… Legally Blonde is just plain fun. And nowadays, who couldn’t use more of that?