MARYSVILLE — The Marysville-Pilchuck High School Drama Club presentation of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” in April not only stepped up the game for what the students were used to in terms of set changes and choreography, but also proved challenging enough to call back an alumnus for the cast.
Anna Mudd, a senior at Marysville Getchell’s Bio-Med Academy, brought all four years of her experience in M-P Drama to bear on playing Elle Woods, the UCLA sorority girl who serves as the production’s lead character as she attends Harvard Law, but even she was able to lean on someone senior to her on the cast, thanks to University of Washington Bothell freshman Mikko Juan stepping up to play Elle’s partner, Emmett Forrest.
“I thought it would be awkward, being back in a high school cast after being in college, but they welcomed me with open arms,” said Juan, who received a call from Mudd after the cast found itself short one Emmett. “I attended drama class all four years of high school, but it took me until my junior year before I got over my reluctance to audition.”
“I forgot he was in college,” said M-PHS junior Hannah Rudd, who played Elle’s other friend, hairdresser Paulette Bonafonté. “The first week of rehearsals, we didn’t even have an Emmett. Everyone talked about his vocal range and how much they missed him that it was like he was a legend. When I first met him, it was like, ‘Oh, Mikko is an actual person.’ I thought he was just an idea.”
On April 27, the sixth and final night of the show’s run, Rudd explained how her role has made her a fairly seasoned performer as well.
“You have to learn to love yourself, or you won’t be able to expect anyone else to,” said Rudd, who has three years of high school drama experience, but only one at M-P. “The great thing about my character is that embracing Paulette has forced me not to be afraid. I can put on a strong front because of her.”
While Juan related easily to Emmett’s drive and determination, as a fellow college student looking to accomplish his goals and keep his GPA up, Mudd admitted that it was a bit more of a stretch for her to connect to Elle.
“I owned no pink clothes before this show,” Mudd laughed, noting Elle’s signature wardrobe color. “What I tried to do was use my own experiences to figure out how she would react emotionally. I like the idea that she’s getting past how other people view her, when they tell her that she can’t do something, and that she finds friends who help bring her up to her goals.”
All three performers agreed that the multiple scene changes per song were a new challenge, while Mudd and Rudd found the dance moves exhaustive as well.
“This was the first year we even had a real choreographer,” Mudd said.
“It’s required high energy and extra practices,” Rudd said. “Four days a week, we were here from 2:30-5 p.m., and Wednesdays we put in an extra two hours. That’s not counting the hours on top of that we spent at a dance studio in Stanwood.”
The cast’s 21 students were accompanied by an orchestra led by Fifth Avenue Theatre Award-winning conductor and M-P teacher Brian Kesler, which also included students from John Rants’ award-winning band. Fifth Avenue Theatre-nominated teacher Roy Klementsen of M-P served as the musical’s director.
As Mudd reflected on her final M-P Drama production, she echoed Juan in the advice she dispensed to her peers coming up the ranks.
“Just go for it,” Mudd said. “It’s hard to audition, especially if you don’t know anyone there. My brother had done drama and had fun with it, but he’d already graduated by the time I started. You just have to be confident, put yourself completely out there and commit to it.”