On March 16, the Anne Shirley Theatre Company will present their first showing of Legally Blonde: The Musical. Whilst we eagerly await opening night, Arthur had the opportunity to talk to President of the company, Wyatt Short, and performer and fundraiser Bronte Germain.
So, Wyatt and Bronte, tell us a little bit about the part you play in the production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.
W: As President, I oversee the entire production. Ensuring that the professional and personal relationships invested by cast, crew, and executive into the production is as enjoyable as possible.
B: It’s my job (with Haley Rosenthaal Dubarsky) to raise funds for the group, which includes getting money from the college cabinets, TCSA, and Theatre Trent, as well as canvassing for donation for our biannual open-mics. As a member of the cast, my job is to be at rehearsal to learn my lines, the choreography, and vocal parts for songs I’m in, and to get my costume organized, etc.
How long have you been working on the production?
W: It is a lengthy and tireless commitment. We start production of the next show as soon as our Spring musical concludes. We worked diligently on Legally Blonde throughout the summer and will up until our Spring AGM.
B: Cast members have rehearsed twice a week from September until now. Nearer to the show things get pretty crazy and we have 25-35 hours of rehearsal a week for three weeks.
Tell me a little bit more about Legally Blonde: The Musical. How did you come to decide to put on this production in particular? What was the appeal?
W: Choosing a show is very fun, but very important. We try to invest in a show that will attract a fun-loving cast as well as entice an audience. Personally, Legally Blonde was my favourite choice. Although Legally Blonde is more for this generation, it presented fun and crazy elements that were too good to pass up.
B: Legally Blonde was director Jess Lynch’s dream, and she had so much passion and such a detailed vision of it that she convinced all of us!
What has it been like to be a part of a production that was originally a successful chick flick? What is it like to adapt a film as opposed to a classic musical?
W: Come to think of it, the past three musicals we’ve done, since I started with the company, have been film adaptations. Personally, I love it. I’m a movie-guy down to the core, seeing movies presented in new ways and with specific tweaks to the plot or characters through their adaptation into musicals is a very cool creative process.
B: I LOVE the movie, so being part of it this way is really fun! It’s obviously got less of a traditional feel than some of the classical musicals, but that allows the director and choreographer to be more creative without feeling like they’re betraying tradition.
How did you raise money for the production?
W: We are fortunate enough each year to receive funding from the TCSA, Theatre Trent, as well as each of Trent’s four colleges. However, the audience is the key to sustaining our group. Everything made via ticket sales is put into the following year’s production. We’re very lucky to have an amazing audience fill the seats and enjoy watching as much as the cast does performing.
B: We raise money mainly through the college cabinets, the TCSA, Theatre Trent, and then ticket sales. We hold two fundraisers a year, which are really fun and good for publicity!
Films-to-musicals is definitely becoming a big thing in the industry, what’s next?!
B: Sadly… I could totally see a Twilight musical happening. Can you imagine the werewolf-vampire dance numbers? It’d be like West Side Story but with less awesome choreography and more sparkles and sexual tension.
What has it been like to work with Director Jessica Lynch, Music director Justin Hiscox, and vocal director Brian MacDonald?
W: Working with Jess (Wedding Singer, Legally Blonde) is an experience that is driven towards success. Working with musical mastermind Justin Hiscox, the most pure musician I have ever met, and Brian MacDonald, a loveable sass with an overwhelmingly friendly command over the vocal aspect of the show, has promised our company, and most importantly our audience, one heck of a show.
B: Jess is a director with a specific vision, which is great for a production because you can ask her any question about your character. Last week she brought in local acting/comedic talent to do an improvisation workshop with us! Justin has been as incredible this year as he was the past two. He’s so positive, so kind, and so passionate about his work. Brian is not only brilliant, but extremely enjoyable to work with; vocal rehearsals are a dream! It’s a truly amazing opportunity to work with these professionals, and every actor involved is lucky to be here.
What is next for the Anne Shirley Theatre Company?
W: Growth. Theatre is dying at Trent, and we’re here to revive it. Through various commitments, we are striving to gain funding to put towards other groups to bring Trent theatre outside of musicals.
B: Hopefully a levy, and definitely expansion! If we get additional funding, the dream is that we’ll be able to run things like improv teams and a play in addition to the musical, not to mention possibly funding other theatre projects. It’s also a dream to perform at Showplace, on a stage with decent-sized wings and an actual backstage (don’t get me started…).
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experiences with the company and the production?
W: On a personal note, none of this would be possible without the support of students and members of the community. Each cast and executive member dedicates their entire school year to this show – they aren’t getting paid, but participating because of what theatre gives to them, as well as what they can give back to their audience.
A huge thanks to Bronte and Wyatt from the Arthur and myself! Break a leg guys!
Tickets for the show are available outside of Wenjack Theatre at Trent U and downtown at Carpe Diem and Naked Chocolate. This is definitely one to see. Don’t miss it and go and get your tickets!