Pleasanton teen is 'Legally Blonde' at Ohlone
StarStruck Theater paints Elle Woods in a pink positive light
Reese Witherspoon brought Elle Woods to life in the 2001 movie, "Legally Blonde." Broadway then resurfaced the popular story in 2007 as a musical. Starting tonight, StarStruck Youth Performing Arts is presenting "Legally Blonde: The Musical" at Ohlone College, to run through Aug. 11, and starring Pleasanton resident Amy Tilson-Lumetta as Elle Woods.
The musical, like the movie, begins with sorority president Elle Woods getting dumped by her boyfriend Warner. Since he is attending Harvard Law School, he declares he needs a more "serious" girlfriend. Elle, obsessed with pink and with a seemingly unrealistic positive outlook on life, does not fit this description.
She sets out to change Warner's opinion as she applies and is accepted into Harvard Law in the hopes of proving to him just how "serious" she can be.
"Being Elle has been absolutely wonderful," said Tilson-Lumetta in an email. She noted that although she has been in other productions, this has been her hardest role so far. "Elle is so different from me," she explained.
Directed by Lori Stokes, the musical focuses on young people finding their identities and what it means to remain true to oneself.
"At first I judged Elle by her bubbly pink exterior," Tilson-Lumetta said. "But then I started to see her for the amazing and complex person she is. She is determined, driven, fearless and positive."
At first completely lost in a world that does not value the color pink or visualize her as the queen bee, Elle gradually begins to make a name for herself at Harvard (and not just because of her fuzzy pink pens and scented printer paper). She thrives as a law student and gains confidence in something more than her appearance: her intelligence.
Tilson-Lumetta described the empowering message in the closing number of Act One, when Elle finally discovers her full potential and realizes, in song, that her life has become "So Much Better."
"I think that's another message of this show: Dream big," Tilson-Lumetta said. "Elle has this fearless driven quality, this mindset that she can and she will achieve anything if she puts her mind to it."
Tilson-Lumetta loves playing Elle because of all her layers: She's perky, bubbly and seemingly unaware on the outside, but on the inside, she has a caring heart and a smart, driven mind.
"Elle has helped me grow so much," Tilson-Lumetta said. "(She has helped me) break past the boundaries of my comfort zone and cultivate the confidence that Elle has -- into me."
Tilson-Lumetta calls participating in this musical "one of the most rewarding experiences" of her life.
"It's awesome working with such talented directors and cast mates," Tilson-Lumetta said. "The environment is so warm and encouraging; I think all our hard work is really paying off. It's because we want to be there, we want to work, and we want to be great."
In that sense, she and the rest of the 50-member cast in "Legally Blonde: The Musical" -- which also includes Pleasanton teens Sarah O'Brien, Charles Platt, Patrick Maravilla, Julia Brunelli, Angela Yamarone and Uma Paranjpe -- are not so different from Elle. They all have dreams, goals and the ambition to be their best; being blonde, legally or not, has nothing to do with it.