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Musical theatre returning to Okotoks high school

AHSFA students to perform Legally Blonde: The Musical opening Dec. 3
SCENE-AHSFA Musical BWC 1908
Chelsea Taylor plays the lead role of Elle Woods in rehearsals for the Alberta High School of Fine Arts production of Legally Blonde: The Musical on Nov. 12.
Theatre students are returning on a high note with a popular musical.

Students of the Alberta High School of Fine Arts and Foothills Composite High School musical theatre program return to the stage on Dec. 3 with their performance of Legally Blonde: The Musical.

“I knew it would be a lot of work, but I’ve just had to adapt and learn a lot at once, and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Chelsea Taylor, playing the lead role of Elle Woods.

“I watched the movie when I was little, I watched it all the time and totally wanted to be Elle Woods.

“She’s really bubbly and fun, and I’m also a pretty bubbly person, so playing her is lots of fun just to be able to embrace it.

“I didn’t even know it was a Broadway musical to be honest before (the musical theatre program) announced it.”

Legally Blonde: The Musical, based on the Amanda Brown novel and 2001 film of the same name, follows sorority girl Elle Woods who tries winning her ex-boyfriend back by enrolling in Harvard Law School, where she surpasses expectations, much to the surprise of those around her.

Only having been in one musical in Grade 10 just as the pandemic hit, Taylor made a big leap straight into the lead.

“Then there was not really a huge stepping stone up to being the lead,” she said.

Laden with elaborate choreography and singing, the musical offers a significant challenge, even for Taylor, who has taken voice lessons since the age of four.

“It’s a ton of memorization," she said. "There's so many songs, and a lot of them are a little lower than where my voice sits sometimes, so I’ve been able to expand my range a little bit.”

Fellow Grade 12 student Rylee James has been a student of dance for 14 years and lent her talents to assist the movement side of the performance by serving as dance captain, ensuring cast know and refine their moves.

“I love the choreography aspect of it, so it’s definitely been really exciting to work with the directors and choreographers and helping other students,” James said.

Working around ever-changing COVID protocols was tough on the students, the dancer added.

“Going from COVID, to still having restrictions, it’s been a little bit challenging, but I think we’ve made it work,” James said.

That instruction helped Taylor, a complete newcomer to the medium.

“I’m not a dancer, I’ve never done it before, and Riley is so good at it—she’s so patient with me,” Taylor said.

“She’s so patient with me—I’ve had to learn the most basic movements, and the amount of time that she’s spent to teach me how to do the most simple things.”

Also helping was the Alberta Dance Academy, which donated time and instruction to the junior showrunners.

Drama and musical theatre teacher Jessica Kelly is also thrilled to see her pupils back in the limelight.

“It’s so exciting. It’s overwhelming. I don’t know how we did this two years ago,” Kelly said.

“Honestly up until mid-October I wasn’t sure if the rug was going to be pulled out from under us again, so I was very tentative about doing things.

“Then it really just hit like a crazy storm of things we have to get done and people we need to contact and costumes we need to finish.”

That added to the fulfilment as the show nears opening day.

“The fact that we are now three weeks out from opening our show is really exciting and emotional,” Kelly said.

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Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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