By Janice Llanes Fabry


Rye Neck High School presents “Legally Blonde” at the Performing Arts Center March 2-4 at 7. After three months of rehearsals, a cast of 40 students and a crew of 71 are ready to bring the house down with the sassy, effervescent musical that follows the metamorphosis of a young woman who defies all expectations. 


“It’s a fun play for everyone, with a good message and lots of dancing,” said Director Scott Harris. “The main character learns she is worth so much more and can achieve a great deal with her intelligence and self-confidence. It’s very empowering for girls.” 


It was that positive message that convinced Harris to select “Legally Blonde” when the students approached him with the idea last year. The director also saw the value in the musical’s sharp humor and big dance ensemble numbers.


“This musical gives students the opportunity to be on stage at the same time and to feel more ownership of the show,” noted Harris, who is working with Choreographer Jesse Pellegrino, Music Director Mark Galinovsky, and Costume Designer/teacher Karen Fontecchio. “It offers much more of a communal experience and it has dynamic leads and strong characters.”


The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007, is based on the highly popular 2001 PG-13 film that put Reese Witherspoon on the map as the resourceful, pink- clad Delta Nu sorority president Elle Woods. Although the movie came out the year many of the students were born, most have seen it and are very excited.


Senior Rachel Wurzburger, who is playing Elle, remembers watching it on TV with her older sisters. “At first, Elle is completely unaware, but then she realizes she is able to push boundaries she thought she never could,” she observed. “I think it’s such a good lesson and a great part to play.”


Among the other leads are Justin Sturgis as Emmett, Mariko Sugaya as Brooke, Hunter Greenhill as Professor Callahan, Joshua Goldin-McCarthy as Warner, Erin Drace as Vivienne, and Bria McClain as Paulette.


Stage Manager Jillian Hurlbut, who has led the crew all four years, said, “I feel privileged. And the experience here made me realize that I want to pursue theater or film in college,” said the University of Wisconsin-bound senior. 


Additional crewmembers include Assistant Stage Managers Margaret Kohler and Matt Ponticiello, Technical Director Ian Gabriele, and Assistant Technical Director Michael Quartararo.


Harris, who teaches acting and musical and technical theater classes, a freshman public speaking class, and now an eighth-grade theater class as well, makes sure all the students have a full theatrical experience. This year, he has even rented an impressive set that is a slightly scaled-down version of the one utilized on Broadway.


“I’m not looking to do a high school musical, but rather a professional-level show that stars high school students,” said Harris. “They’re getting an elevated experience and it really helps that Rye Neck supports theater.”


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Director Scott Harris with Rye Neck High’s “Legally Blonde” cast