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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

September 13, 2012

Cara Dolan On Choreographing “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:24 pm

Cara Dolan, Choreographer of "Legally Blonde the Musical"

 

Choreographing Legally Blonde has been an adventure to say the least. Going in I thought “it’s just a little show about a sorority girl following her love to law school.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. This show is anything but little. The music doesn’t stop so there was a lot more choreography than I expected. The more I worked on it, the more I realized how charming and clever the show really is. It has so much energy and that is one of the things I love most about it.  Elle’s admission essay into Harvard was not only my favorite to choreograph but it’s also what I get most excited for the audience to see every night.  There are so many things going on at once, in this almost 10 minute long number, between band members and the men of Harvard admissions to cheerleaders and frat boys and they are all doing something different. This cast really had their work cut out for them and the result went beyond my expectations. It’s one of those numbers where there are so many things to look at and you can feel the excitement and energy each night. It makes me want to jump on that stage and root for Elle too.

The most challenging part of the show for me may be the most impressive. Enter “Whipped Into Shape.”  Working with jump ropes is not only a lot harder than you’d think but there are about a thousand things that can go wrong. From hitting yourself in the face with your rope to getting tangled with the rope next to you, it can throw the whole number off.  If it can happen, it happened in rehearsal. When the number came together though, it was nothing short of amazing. I love seeing the audience reaction to this because it’s so impressive to see the stamina and coordination that these actors have. I’m so proud of how far everyone has come.

I never thought Legally Blonde would be my favorite show thus far to work on but it really has been. I still really enjoy watching it every night and I’m genuinely happy every time I leave the theater. I’m so thankful to have worked with this cast and of course Marybeth, Sam and Chet. I’ll cherish the memories I made in this show for the rest of my life.

 

The cast performs "What You Want."

 

The cast performs "Whipped Into Shape."

 

 

Meet Brittani Minnieweather, Starring as Paulette in “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:33 pm

Featured Center: Brittani Minnieweather as Paulette in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up in Columbia, SC and as a little girl I played basketball for almost 10 years. I always wanted to be on the stage so I went to a magnet high school and concentrated on theatre.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I received by Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: Most notably I have worked alongside Ms. Debbie Allen in Debbie Allen’s Brothers of the Knight. My role Happy was probably my favorite until Paulette.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the lead role of Paulette? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: The director, Marybeth gave me the honor of playing Paulette so i knew I had to do my best to make her proud. I worked with our choreographer Cara and music director Sam for help in creating Paulette’s physicality and voice. Also, being inspired by my fellow actors helped me make choices to take chances that I normally would not have taken.  The biggest challenge I faced with Paulette was bringing the energy to her every day of rehearsal and performance. She is a happy, loud, and excited person. So, even if I am not feeling that way, I have to bring it to her; it gives her life.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past two weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Paulette?
A: Paulette is an optimist and a great friend. I love being on stage and playing a character that believes that there is always something better in life. Also, even though Paulette and Elle come from different backgrounds, their belief in love bonds them together.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I just got married to my husband Derek, so I love spending the evenings with him watching a movie and eating pizza.

 

Featured Center: Brittani Minnieweather as Paulette in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

 

Sam Henderson On Music Directing “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:32 pm

Sam Henderson, Music Director of "Legally Blonde"

 

Legally Blonde has been particularly challenging for several reasons. The show itself is surprisingly music-heavy. In fact the score for this show is longer and much more involved than shows like Les Miserables and even some operas. Another big challenge was coming in right before the rehearsal process began since I was new and not having the normal 1-2 months of prep time I spend before taking on a show like this. Given this and the fact that I had a cast of 28 who I’d never met, much less worked with, I’m very pleased with how it’s all come together.

This show is a ton of fun, musically, and there are moments I look forward to each night. “Positive” and “Ireland” make me giggle every time I hear the lyrics, and playing “Bend and Snap” with the orchestra is a blast. I also look forward each night to hearing the crowd’s reaction to the show and the music. We especially appreciate those people who stick around at the end of the show to let the orchestra know how much they appreciate them!

Don’t miss the last two weeks of performances running Sept. 13 – 23! See you at the Dock!

 

The cast performs "Omigod You Guys."

 

 

 

 

Meet Vanessa Moyen, Guest Actor Starring as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:52 am

Vanessa Moyen, Guest Actor Starring as Elle Woods

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up in San Jose, California. I tap danced a little in preschool (emphasis on a LITTLE), but the thing that really got me interested in the arts was the shows my parents took me and my sister to at the Center for Performing Arts in downtown San Jose and at the local children’s theatre.  I always knew I wanted to be on that stage someday too!

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I started in 6th grade at a community theatre drama camp, and from there kept performing up through high school (I took classes in school as well as places like American Musical Theatre of San Jose and Actor’s Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco).  After that, I jumped over to the East Coast to get my Bachelors of Fine Arts from Emerson College in Boston.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I’ve been lucky enough to work at theaters in California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Indiana and South Carolina now and have loved all of it!  Some of my favorite roles so far are Kate Monster/Lucy in Avenue Q, Olive in Spelling Bee, and Hilda in Plain and Fancy.  I think Elle is now moving to the top of my list though!

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the lead role of Elle Woods? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: I was pretty lucky to come into the role with the experiences of having lived in both California and Boston, so I didn’t have to do much research on that! I’ve been a huge Reese Witherspoon fan and have loved Legally Blonde, the movie since I was a kid and have probably seen it over 300 times–so I was also really familiar with the material.

Some of the challenges that came with this role for me were getting into the sorority mentality.  I was never in a sorority and never really felt a draw towards it, so that part of it was a little challenging to get in to.  I also LOVE the story, so I really wanted to do it justice!

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past two weeks… what do you most look forward to each performance playing Elle Woods?
A: I really look forward to the journey I get to take every night.  Whenever I’m in the Malibu scenes I think “Man, I can’t wait to get to the Harvard scenes!” and when I’m in the Harvard scenes I think “Oh! I can’t wait to get back to the Malibu scenes!”  Then I remind myself I get to do it all over again the next night and that calms me down a little.  I love that the show is so fast-paced and always moving!

 

Q: Last season you were a Charleston Stage Resident Actor. What did you learn from that experience and what are your thoughts on returning to Dock Street Theatre as a Guest Actor?
A: One of the biggest things I learned from that experience was how to make my acting and rehearsal process efficient.  The volume of shows we did last year was faster and much more than any series of shows I’ve ever done before and I really learned how to produce quality work quickly.

I’m so glad I get the opportunity to return to the Dock! I love this company and the theatre is absolutely beautiful! I feel so lucky that I get another opportunity to perform in this space let alone with Charleston Stage again!

 

Q: What’s next?
A: Up next I’m making the move to New York City.  I’ve been saving and working up to it for quite a while now and I think I’m finally ready to take it on!

 

Featured Center: Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods.

 

 

 

 

September 6, 2012

Meet Allison Schnake, Starring as Brooke Wyndham in “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:10 pm

Playing Brooke Wyndham will probably rank as one of my favorite and most challenging roles. Brooke’s energy and no-nonsense attitude have been so much fun to embody and I have loved playing such a powerful female character. But, of course, the most challenging part of this role is Brooke’s big number “Whipped Into Shape.” Several months ago, when I found out I’d been cast as Brooke, I immediately went to the nearest sporting goods store, bought a jump rope, and started practicing. I’ve spent countless hours on my driveway and in my garage jumping up and down and singing….I’m sure my neighbors were thrilled.

All of us who participate in that number made it a point to practice every chance we got. We would arrive 10 minutes early to rehearsal to get in a quick run through. We would use our breaks to practice double jumps. I’m sure all of us were jumping rope in our sleep! “Whipped Into Shape” takes laser-sharp focus and we’re all a little on edge every night until that number is finished. But all that hard work has really paid off and I’m so proud of how far all of us have come.

 

 

 

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