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Positively Elle: Hagerstown girl stars in stage version of 'Legally Blonde'

April 24, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • Leah Harrell plays "Elle" and Latte plays "Bruiser" in the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts production of "Legally Blonde."
Colleen McGrath / Colleen McGrath

But after her boyfriend dumps her and heads off to law school, Elle decides to follow him. With her trusty dog Bruiser by her side, Elle proves to her ex — and everybody else — that she’s one blonde who isn’t dumb.

Barbara Ingram School for the Arts presents the musical “Legally Blonde.” The show opens Friday, April 26, and runs for two weekends at The Maryland Theatre.

For Leah Harrell, 17, of Hagerstown, getting the chance to perform as Elle is a dream come true.

“It was a role I always wanted to play,” she said, noting that she’s seen the show about 15 times.

When she found out the Broadway company had closed, Leah thought her dreams had been dashed.

“So when I found out we were doing this show, I was so excited and really, really focused, and I really, really wanted it,” she said. “It was probably the happiest the day of my life, not to sound cheesy or anything.”

And it’s that Elle Woods-style positivity that helped to land Leah the role.

“I do try to stay pretty positive,” Leah said. “I think I’m pretty focused on my schoolwork and career wise and everything like she is, so I can tap into that a little bit.”

Ruth Ridenour, director of theater and arts at BISFA and the show’s director, said in the school’s fourth-year production she wanted to branch out. Past shows include the classical-styled musical “Totally Modern Millie,” the sing-through operatic show “Phantom of the Opera” and last year’s Disney musical, “ Beauty and the Beast.”

“I really felt we needed to do a pop musical,” Ridenour said. “We’re an art school and we have to educate our students in all the styles that they’re going to see when they go out to audition on Broadway.”

Ridenour said with “Legally Blonde” students are learning a new style compared to past shows.

“And they’re learning a lot more interesting dance routines,” she said.

The show had three choreographers for this musical —  Andrea Masciocchi, lead dance teacher at BISFA and lead choreographer; BISFA music theater teacher Shylo Martinez and Mark Burrell from New York City.

Because BISFA is a performing arts school, Ridenour is preparing her students for life beyond the classroom.

“I think the biggest thing is (working in an) ensemble, how to work with a team, being a person who someone wants to work with, having that personality (that says) ‘You want me to be in your show,’” she said. “That’s one of the big things we teach as well as the skills and the techniques necessary to get the work.”

Leah is hoping to take what she’s learned at BISFA with her as she pursues her dreams. She plans on attending Shenandoah Conservatory next year to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

“Of course I’d love to work on Broadway, but I’ll see what happens,” she said.

As for “Legally Blonde,” Leah said the musical shows the school working as a team.

“It’s such a fun musical and you really get to see all types of different talents,” she said. “We have dancers in this show, theater musical kids, vocal majors, acting majors. Everyone in this school is somehow part of this musical and you get to see what they feel like they’re really, really best at.”



If you go ...       

WHAT: Barbara Ingram School for the Arts presents “Legally Blonde”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, Saturday, April 27, Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown.

COST: $8 to $25

CONTACT: Call 301-790-3500 or go to www.mdtheatre.org.



If you go ...       

WHAT: “Legally Blonde” VIP after party

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: $50, includes performance

CONTACT: Call 240-347-4935 or email mimid@barbaraingramfoundation.org.

MORE: Share sweet treats, drinks and photographs with the cast.



By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Leah Harrell stars as Elle and Latte as Bruiser in Barbara Ingram School for the Arts’ musical, “Legally Blonde.”

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