WEST CALDWELL, NJ — James Caldwell High School students will showcase their talents on Thursday when the curtains open on the spring musical, “Legally Blonde,” based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name.
The spring musical’s premiere production will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, with additional showings on Friday and Saturday at the same time as well as Sunday at 2 p.m.
According to director Greg Paradis, this “enormous” show has 30 scene changes and features 40 cast members, 20 crew members, 20 musicians and two dogs. As the cast was putting together the final touches this week, he said everything has been going smoothly and was enthusiastic about how some of the “show-stopping” numbers were coming together.
“The kids are great—we have some really excellent student leaders who take the initiative to act as stage manager, assistant stage manager, assistant choreographer, [etc.],” said Paradis. “That’s awesome for me to have a group of kids that are really invested in making this go smoothly and successfully, so I give a lot of the credit to that.”
With music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach, “Legally Blonde” tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial.
Throughout the show, no one has faith in Elle Woods, but she manages to surprise them when she defies expectations while staying true to herself.
In addition to being a lively production with pop music and a storyline that fits into the mindset of this age group, Paradis also said the two messages of the show also hit home for high school students.
“I enjoy the message of the show, which is the message of female empowerment and the other one, which can apply to apply to anyone, is, ‘Be the best version of yourself,’” he said. “Rather than a show like ‘Grease,’ where the message seems to be, ‘Give up your values if you want to be accepted,’ this one is, ‘You can stay exactly who you are, but you just want to be the best version of that’ and I value that a lot.”
Paradis advised that unlike family-oriented productions like “Seussical” and “Beauty and the Beast,” this one is geared toward a more mature audience. Due to the language in some scenes, he said parents should be aware that this is not a show for kids who are particularly sensitive to language.
“It’s the community’s kids that are doing this,” he said. “It’s a pretty daunting task and they are totally doing it justice. I think that if [area residents] were to come see it, they would be very impressed with the level and quality of work that the kids are doing.”
Those looking for a fun night out are encouraged to attend one of the four productions of James Caldwell’s “Legally Blonde” this weekend.