Dance Fever, with a cast made up of Brisbane’s finest performing arts students, have mounted the hit Tony award-nominated musical adaptation of the beloved film Legally Blonde (what, like its hard?) to be performed at SunPAC theatre after a mountain of behind-the-scenes struggles.
Legally Blonde, for those living under a rock, tells the story of the perky Elle Woods, the blonde-headed sorority stereotype we’ve all come to know. After facing heartbreak, Elle decides to get her ex-boyfriend back by getting herself into Harvard Law, a task that is not without its challenges.
The hit 2007 musical adaptation of the same name, with a book penned by Heather Hach and music and lyrics by writing duo Neil Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe, has proven to be a staple with community theatre groups, and who can blame them? The show’s positive message and themes of being true to oneself, combined with a hilarious script, iconic characters, quotable lines, and upbeat and memorable songs are a testament to its legacy as one of the most popular musicals of all time.
Opening tomorrow evening, with performances on both the 23rd and 24th of November, Elle Woods will come to life on stage through the performance of Bella Gordon.
Getting this show up-and-running was about as easy as getting into Harvard Law! Though many difficulties and curveballs were thrown the crew’s way, including the closing of a company’s doors and the locating of a new venue, it really is a testament to their character that they managed to get this production onto the stage.
When speaking with members of the crew, it became clear that throughout the hardships of this production, the students who make up the cast were always their top priority in making this show a reality.
Director and choreographer Maureen Bowra stated that “my one and only goal for getting this show back up off the cutting room floor [was] to give the students their chance to shine. They’ve worked way too hard to not be seen.”
Associate choreographer Maryanne Nucifora agrees with this sentiment, “the show was always about the students and their talent … however, the intention has changed slightly. It has become even more about giving them their last opportunity to come together as the strong team they are.”
In theatre, many curveballs can be thrown your way, and that holds the possibility of changing the original intention of the show.
Regarding this theory, Nucifora stated that “it is a story now of passion, determination, courage, and a bit of magic.”
That passion that Nucifora speaks of is evident throughout the entire cast and crew and has been woven into every aspect of the production. What began as a simple, run-of-the-mill student theatre production has since evolved into a display of how tightly knit of a family the Brisbane theatre community is, proving that it takes a village to put on a show.
Director Maureen Bowra mused “it’s become way more than just a student production now; this show belongs to the community.”
It is this community that has shaped Dance Fever’s production of Legally Blonde, with stage manager Brie Siemsen saying that “it was tricky at first because we weren’t sure what the outcome would be … but with all the support we had from the Brisbane theatre community, it started to come together really fast.”
What Siemsen says rings true, as this production of Legally Blonde sports an impressive array of sponsors and volunteers, including the very fitting sponsor of the Brisbane Family Law Centre.
When asked what drew these sponsors to this production, Bowra remarked that it was because of “the sense of helplessness that we felt when everything started unfolding.”
The gratitude displayed by the entire crew behind Legally Blonde really is a testament to each of their characters, as they could all not sing the praises of their supporters enough, with Bowra stating they gained a “veritable army of supporters who held their hands every step of the way.”
This comparison is not an over-exaggeration, as everyone that I interviewed all had an extensive list of people to thank, with particular praise going to the owner and director of Dance Fever Studios Wendy Sims, with Nucifora calling her the productions “incredible, number-one supporter,” and further stating that “without her, this wouldn’t be possible.”
This same praise was extended to the team at SunPAC from Bowra. “We are also incredibly thankful to SunPAC for housing us on such ridiculously short notice.” Nucifora seconded this statement, claiming that “we are so lucky to have such a beautiful venue.”
Dance Fever’s Legally Blonde truly has become something of a family-owned production, with the show of support from the Brisbane theatre community proving this.
Siemsen mused that, regarding the production, “it’s all about family. We may not know everyone in the theatre community, and they may not know us, but they are willing to fight for us, and we did. We fought for it. Now, look where we are.”
Yet, through all of this, the creative team behind all this remain as selfless as the musical’s happy-go-lucky protagonist. With all the praise for the sponsors, as well as their impressive navigation of several difficulties, the show has always been about the students that make up its cast.
“We want to do this for the students,” Nucifora says, “we all want to give them the show they deserve. After everything that has happened … all we want to do is give them this amazing, and fun opportunity.”
Producing Legally Blonde has proven to be no easy feat, but through it all, the creative team managed to push through, not for themselves, but for their incredibly talented cast of students. As Elle Woods would say, snaps for them.
Legally Blonde has not only showcased the talents of its students and the determination of its crew, but also the selflessness of the creative team, and how close the Brisbane theatre community truly is.
This is going to be a show you’ll not want to miss. Bend and snap your way over to SunPAC to catch Dance Fever’s Legally Blonde, performing on the 23rd and 24th of November. Tickets are available here.