Bend and Snap: Looking Beyond Legally Blonde Jr.

Julia Young


Spotlights flash across the stage, songs play through hidden speakers, and the cast’s voices dazzle the audience at the Michael D. Nakasone Performing Arts Center. On Jan. 13, 14, 20, 21, and 22, the Central Theatre Arts Academy (CTAA) performed their first musical of the year, Legally Blonde Jr. This show was based on Legally Blonde, a teen comedy movie that was released in 2001 and had been a hit since then. The CTAA is a student-led performing arts learning center open to all public school students therefore, the Legally Blonde Jr. production was created and directed entirely by students of all grade levels.

“Theater is such a bonding experience and I think people know that, but people don’t realize how bonding it is. It’s like a second family because you’re seeing these people all of the time, you share a dressing room and you’re in each other’s faces all of the time,” said sophomore and lead actor, Alexa Grean who played Elle Woods. “So you know, if you don’t become friends with them then what are you doing? Theater on its own is such an enjoyable experience, but it’s the friends, the memories, meeting new people, getting more people to join- it makes it so worth it,” 

The CTAA first began working on the musical near the end of September, where auditions were held for castings. After choosing the cast, members of the production had three hour long rehearsals every week from Monday through Thursday after school. During these rehearsals, the cast would work on their dancing, singing, and acting skills while being instructed by the directors. Since the program also had many new students this year, student instructors were tasked to teach rookies about the basics of play production. When January came along, the CTAA went into tech week, where technical elements of the show were presented and the rehearsals became an hour longer than usual.

“We only really got into the theater two weeks before the show, which is kind of crazy, to figure out the blocking and things. So rehearsals are kind of crazy but then once we get a better grasp on things and how things work it gets a lot easier,” said set designer sophomore Elizabeth Katz.

During the program, members of play production were split into different groups with varying roles. Those who were in the set design team were in charge of designing sets for the show, while those who were in the costume design team were responsible for creating costumes for the cast. In the light booth, those in the lighting team were in control of the lighting and spotlights throughout the show, while the sound designers managed the sound effects and the microphone volume of the cast. The run crew were also a vital part of the production, as they would move props on and off the stage during the performance. Everyone had different jobs doing different things, but the tech crew was able to operate due to communication throughout the group.

“I had comms that connect to the people at the sound table in the audience, the two spotters who are in rooms right next to me, my two assistant managers, Riki and Miki, and then Anita who is our costume designer,” said junior Jasmine Smith, the stage manager of the production. “I basically say every time a track played or there was a spotlight or the light changed, I had to call it and say like ‘Ok, you can go now.’”

Initially, the CTAA planned to perform the original Legally Blonde musical, but because some scenes were deemed too inappropriate for the general audience, the directors decided to go with the junior version, which was an hour shorter than the original. Since a lot was cut out, there were many setbacks regarding music, costumes and sets. The show did not account for the fact that actors had different outfits throughout the performance, so quick changes were very prevalent. At one point, the two lead actors had three consecutive costume changes in one scene, but because the music did not account for the time the actors needed, it was altered and looped to give them more time. However, even through all of these challenges, the students were able to adapt and create a play that many were able to enjoy.

“What I like about CTAA is that they give us the opportunity to kind of take control of the production, like if there’s a problem then we have to solve it and they don’t jump in for us,” said Smith. “It’s prepared a lot of people for the future and future careers, future jobs, so I’m really thankful to be a part of an organization that does that.” 

Most of the performances have gone without any major issues, but where there is a show, there are also some technical difficulties. Crew and cast members were constantly on their toes the entire performance as they always had to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether if a prop breaks, the lights malfunction or a cast member gets injured, the students were ready to solve any mishap for the show to go on. One complication that had occurred during the last show was when Grean had her mic ripped off her face near the end of the performance. Even though the mic was stuck in her sleeve and couldn’t pick up her voice, Grean did not panic and instead just sang louder so that the audience could hear. 

“There’s a song that I’m singing at the end with Warner, and then I realize that mostly everyone else on the stage has mics on and so hopefully, some part of me is going to pick up on someone else’s mic,” said Grean. “And so you work around it and it works out, hopefully it worked out and you could hear me.”

On closing night, the production had their senior night at the end of the show. During this time, each senior was gifted a lei on stage as speeches were made about the memories the seniors shared in the CTAA community. Whether it be having dance parties backstage, playing hide and seek around the theater, or eating lunch together as cast and crew, the fun that these students had were what made the CTAA so memorable to them.

“It’s really sad because I’ve known them for the past three years and realizing that they’re about to go and just hearing all their speeches about how much we all mean to them and how this was a family for them, it really hurts,” said Smith.

A lot of hard work and commitment was shown from every student when creating the Legally Blonde Jr. production. For more information about the CTAA, visit @centraltheatrearts on Instagram or