By Bob Evans
Instead of shopping for bargains or wasting time, a dedicated group of young thespians focused their energy on learning and performing a Broadway-style musical as the end result of a week-long intensive workshop to learn and perform “Legally Blonde Jr.” at the Johnson County new, multi-use facility on Metcalf.
“Legally Blonde,” comes to life this weekend in Theatre in the Par’s Winter Academy production that showcases 25 incredibly talented middle and high school students from across the metro. The kids were chosen by audition in September and are spending their winter break from school rehearsing for the full-blown show, Dec. 29 & 30 at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center at 8788 Metcalf in Overland Park.
According to TTIP metro students in grades 8-12 auditioned and were cast in the fall to begin rehearsals during winter Break. The Winter Academy focuses on individual performance aspects to give students an opportunity to focus and home performance aspects of their skill sets.
Strong performance skills, strong voices, good characterizations, strong stage presence just shines in all these performers. Even those who have just a few lines come on and off stage with confidence and hold their characters in each scene. The skills demonstrate how focused each individual created his or her character. In all, 25 students participated in a show that makes many high school productions dim in comparison. These students knew their character; knew their blocking; knew their lines; knew the choreography; delivered strong performances; and sang with the confidence of seasoned performers.
With such talent to select from, Guy Gardner was blessed with great vocal performers. That’s probably the most outstanding part of the show. All of the actors with solos possessed strong speaking and singing voices. The group numbers, too, gave the cast a chance to let loose with their voices unthrottled. From the choreography expected in a Gardner production, Ramsey Self created choreography that matched the performers and the story line. Everyone appeared to have dance background and moved as if they had prior training. Great job by staff and actors to create a good show.
The cast for “Legally Blonde Jr” as provided by TTIP is: McKenna Shaw, Elle Woods; Christian Geil, Emmett Forrest; Jackson Tomlin, Warner Huntington III; Declan Franey, Professor Callahan; Emma Mathieson, Vivienne Kensington; Anna Weigel, Brooke Wyndham; Maria Heath, Enid Hoops; Anna Synek, Serena; Clara Simkins, Margot; Pilar; Faye Rebottaro, Delta Nus: Beth Anderson, Ellie Kwon, Gracie Wright, Taylor Schierbeck; Harvard Students: Chloe Browning, Elizabeth Lipford, Emily Roswold, Evan Wohlenhaus, Gavin Hoedl, Grace Terrel, Maggie Bunch, Raleigh Jonas, Samantha Peters, Sarah Navran
Navigating and coaxing the young thespians through the workshop fell into the hands of five dedicated professionals led by Guy Gardner, director. He was assisted by Cassie Sutherland, Music Director;
Ramsey Self, Choreographer; J. Patrick Inlow, Lighting/Media/Scenic Design; Katy Case, Stage Manager, Fran Kuzilao, Costume Designer.
Good news for the cast and crew. The entire run was sold out and announced during the final dress rehearsal. The auditorium seats about 160 patrons.
Tags: “Legally Blonde Jr.”, Theatre in the Park, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center