ARLINGTON — In spite of competing with the Hardwood Classic in Tacoma, the Arlington High School Drama production of “Legally Blonde” nonetheless sold out on its opening night March 1, filling about 400 seats in the Byrnes Performing Arts Center with a fast-paced and fluid musical which featured multiple set changes during each song.
AHS seniors and “Legally Blonde” stars Baily Hudson, Mario Marante and Christian Sanchez are all in their second year of AHS Drama, and all three agreed that “Legally Blonde” marks a stark difference in content and tone from last year’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
“It’s been a challenge to step outside my comfort zone and take risks, but I’ve found things out about myself,” said Hudson, who plays perky Harvard Law student Elle Woods. “Dancing is not my strong suit, but as I’ve practiced, I’ve gotten a lot better.”
Hudson admitted that she doesn’t share a lot of interests in common with the “girly” Elle, but she encouraged the AHS Drama students who will follow in her footsteps next year to “not be afraid to let themselves go onstage, because if they hold back, they’ll regret it.”
Marante found himself promoted from a supporting player last year to one of the leads as the devious Professor Callahan this year, and he credited AHS Vocal teacher Brent McGee with bringing out his musical side, as he memorized more lyrics than he’d had to handle in any previous play.
“Callahan’s very different from the characters I’ve played before, in that he’s a narcissist with a bit of a God complex,” Marante said. “He’s middle-aged and worries a lot about how he looks to others, which I don’t, so I have to work on that, but after all the hard work it’s rewarding to just be able to perform.”
Like Hudson and Sanchez, Marante encouraged underclassmen coming up to “take a chance” with AHS Drama, provided they’re willing to expend the effort and test the limits of what they think they can do.
“Of course, I have to be sexy in this, so I’m not really acting,” joked Sanchez, who plays Kyle the hunky delivery man. “Unlike ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which was written more for an audience of children, the humor here is really aimed at teens and young adults.”
Sanchez appreciates his time in Jazzmine in retrospect for helping him develop the musical chops for such a play, and plans to study musical theater in college.
“We were anticipating a ghost town on our opening night, and were pleasantly shocked,” AHS Drama teacher Scott Moberly said. “When you rehearse a funny play enough times, you can forget it’s a comedy until you finally hear the laughter of the audience, because you’ve heard all those same jokes yourselves so many times that they don’t even register. But the crowds were on their feet, and the actors responded to that.”
“Legally Blonde” still has two more 7 p.m. showings, on March 8 and 9, and at 1 p.m. on March 9, AHS Drama is teaming up with the Arlington Relay For Life to support the American Cancer Society through a special matinee performance of “Legally Blonde.” Attendees are encouraged to wear pink to represent the Relay For Life’s fight against cancer, and also to coordinate with the fashions sported by Elle Woods, the lead character of the musical.
Prior to showtime, Arlington Relay For Life vendors will be selling products and providing refreshments in the lobby, the proceeds of which will go exclusively to Relay For Life. Moberly added that fully half of the proceeds from this performance will be donated to Relay For Life.
Tickets and additional information are available at www.byrnesperformingarts.org or at the door.