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Hampton production hits stage starting this week

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Hampton High School students Cassie Lombardo, as Elle Woods, and Freddie Hewitt, as Emmett Forest, rehearse a scene from “Legally Blonde” the musical, based on a popular novel and film of the same name, which will open Friday, April 5.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Hampton High School student Gina Alm rehearses her role as Brooke Wyndham, the defendant in a high-profile case that proves Elle Woods’ abilities as a law student in the courtroom.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Jen Yeager leads an ensemble of dancers during a rehearsal of Hampton High School’s production of “Legally Blonde” the musical.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
The Hampton High School cast rehearses a scene from “Legally Blonde” the musical as they prepare for opening night of their spring musical on Friday, April 5.

While Hampton High School is known for staging classic productions from the golden age of musical theater, this year the school is stepping outside of the box with a more modern musical.

Hampton students will take the stage tomorrow in “Legally Blonde,” the 2007 Broadway musical based on the novel and film of the same name, which features sorority sister turned law student Elle Woods.

“I really want people to understand it's not just a stupid chick flick,” said Cassie Lombardo, a senior who plays Elle Woods. “It's real and funny and a well-written show that is relatable.”

Lombardo takes her character from her California Delta Nu sorority house to Harvard Law School to prove to her former boyfriend, Warner, that she can be serious.

After a challenging start to her career as a law student, Lombardo's character begins to excel in class and lands a coveted intern position with Professor Callahan, which puts her on the legal team defending a fitness guru accused of murdering her billionaire husband.

“Legally Blonde” is a conscious deviation from Hampton High School's traditional musical productions.

“We knew at the end of last school year we wanted a modern musical to explore an area of musical theater we had not done before,” said Dan Franklin, director.

The directorial staff settled on “Legally Blonde” which challenges students on stage, backstage and in the orchestra pit.

This year's musical boasts a cast of 55, a student orchestra of 18 and one of the largest stage crews of 25 students.

The musical is packed with more than 20 songs that challenge the students' instrumental and vocal talents with six- to seven-part harmonies and unusual key changes.

“We don't have many lines,” said Freddie Hewitt, a sophomore, who plays Emmett Forrest, Elle Woods' love interest and Callahan's assistant. “I have 30 to 40 (lines). It's mostly music. You have to keep in mind when you're singing you also have to act. The lyrics are your lines.”

Because of the fast-paced nature of the modern musical, the Hampton crew also had to forego its large static sets for equally elaborate sets that are comprised of stylized doors, tables and chairs to convey different scenes.

The large stage crew needed to create and place all of the set pieces and props, and had to work with the actors on timing for the smooth production numbers.

“Everyone has to be perfectly coordinated,” said senior Dale Miller, who plays Callahan and is the student vocal director. “It's a whole new level of difficulty.”

Franklin said this year's musical is “unlike any we've ever done;” however, the students have stepped up to the challenge and dedicated themselves to more frequent and intense rehearsals.

“They've been working extremely hard,” Franklin said of the students. “If it weren't for Hampton students' desire to raise themselves up to a challenge … they don't do well with easy stuff, they do well with a challenge.”

Earlier this week, students took their show on the road to local senior citizen homes, and throughout the show's two-weekend run, students hope the community will support them as they bring the message to believe in yourself to the stage.

“I'm really looking forward to this musical,” Franklin said. “I'm hoping we'll pack the house and the audience leaves feeling really good about themselves and floored by what they see and maybe a song or two stuck in their heads.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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