The Inner Workings of Legally Blonde: The Musical

By Francesca Polidoro

Header courtesy of @flhsmusicals (Instagram)

Thumbnail courtesy of Subplot Studio


Countless hours. 2 acts. 21 scenes. 33 people. 2 dogs. This is what it took for Fair Lawn High School’s award-winning theater department to put on Legally Blonde: The Musical, which I had the privilege of being a part of.


The rehearsal process began in late November. After the cast list came out, the team got straight to work, with the first rehearsal a mere two days later. At first, the main focus was vocals, with the cast joining together in B113 at 3:30 every day to work on the many musical numbers in this show. Ms. Duenas, one of Legally Blonde’s directors and the teacher of the American Musical Theatre course at Fair Lawn High School, was very organized and efficient in teaching challenging harmonies and ensuring that each cast member sounded their absolute best.


Later, staging rehearsals in the auditorium began with co-director Mrs. Beaudoin, a teacher at Radburn Elementary. Rehearsals included both fairly simple blocking and intense choreography by Jaime Frola, as seen in various songs including “Positive” and “Whipped into Shape.” 


Gradually, the show began to come together, with props, actors’ distinct choices, and the energy and excitement of the cast reaching an ultimate high. However, when the use of the colorful sets began, some of the scenes had to be adjusted–specifically some of the musical numbers needed work. The cast did not let this stop them, and everyone adjusted to every change quickly and efficiently. Granted, there were many late and frustrating nights, but everything came together beautifully. In the end, the show was spectacular, full of satisfied audience members and a very proud cast. 


Legally Blonde The Musical played for three nights with one matinee. Judges from Paper Mill Playhouse’s The Rising Star Awards program and the Helen Hayes' Metropolitan High School Theatre Awards were in attendance during the Saturday night show.


Throughout this process, the cast became like a family. Unbreakable bonds were formed between everyone ranging from the leading role to members of the large ensemble. Each person in this amazing show grew closer with every rehearsal, tradition, and bonding experience.


Not only did I have the pleasure of being directed by Ms. Duenas and Mrs. Beaudoin, I also had the opportunity to interview the duo in order to  get their perspective on this production:

(This interview was lightly edited for clarity.)


Q: What made you choose Legally Blonde as the musical?


Duenas: “I knew we had capable singers to do this show… but I also felt that this show really spoke to me because of the message of the show. I knew we had the musicians. It was a great message. It's a super fun show, it's a large ensemble, and it was just the right show for this year.”


Beaudoin: “The music and the cast and the opportunities, especially for the ensemble. And the dance opportunities: it gives the opportunity for everyone to shine.”


Q: How is this different from other shows you've directed?


D: “This is the biggest show I've ever really been a part of on the directing side of things. It's definitely a large undertaking compared to what I've done in the past, but other than that, it's the same.”


B: “I have directed shows with more performers, but they were children over teens, so that was a challenge in a good way. I also think the equipment that we have here and the resources that we have at Fair Lawn High School have been amazing to work with.”


Q: What's the most challenging part of directing?


D: “I think the biggest challenge is putting the last pieces together. It's the most challenging and the most stressful.”


B: “There's a fine line between having fun and working hard. Socialization is key in musical theater, but there is the right time to socialize and the wrong time, so I think for me, that's the biggest challenge; when everyone's socializing a little too much.”


Q: What's your favorite song/scene from the show?


D: “Mine is either ‘Positive’ or ‘There! Right There!’”


B: “I love ‘Take It Like a Man,’ especially because it’s at the end and it's that turning point where you actually see Elle is somewhat attracted to Emmett and truly admires him for who he is.” 


Ultimately, Legally Blonde: The Musical at Fair Lawn High School was an amazing experience, filled with an abundance of passion and hard work. It was an honor to be a part of.

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