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Franklin High to perform Legally Blonde

Franklin High to perform Legally Blonde
Cast and crew members of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" pose in the auditorium at Franklin High School Feb. 11. From left, back row: Ally Feldman, Jordan Opher, Alex Orellana, McKenna Logie,_Joshua Matiz, Gabby Trujillo, Noah Heilveil, Chloe Harvey, Erin Heilveil, Sarah Wolf, Sean Hyatt, Ian Fife, Dylan Saintcross, Tyler Harris, Nathan Sanford, Gillain Borkoski, Lexi Walls, Christen Gross, Meredith Ditto and Marissa Carr. Front: Alyssa Bell; Danny Hughes; director/teacher; Sarah Sikorski; Alyssa Ramberg and Angel Dao. (Submitted photo)

This month, Franklin High School is going blonde — Legally Blonde.

The school's drama students, led by theater teacher Daniel Hughes, will be performing the musical at 7 p.m. March 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28, and at 2 p.m. March 21.

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For the school's drama department, this more mature, contemporary production is a startling departure from previous performances.

"We did 'Aida' [last year], which is more of a dramatic musical and … in the fall, we did 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' — that was really kid-friendly," Hughes said. "And we hadn't done anything that was really modern, more for an older audience, so we chose 'Legally Blonde.'"

Senior Ally Feldman, who plays the lead, Elle Woods, said having the chance to take on a different type of production has been a great experience.

"We have done a lot of serious shows in the past and to be able to have this new, fresh opportunity has been absolutely amazing," she said.

For the students, the real power in the production is its message. Based on a novel, which was turned into a movie in 2001, the musical follows the story of a young woman who attempts to prove that a person's intelligence cannot be judged based upon looks.

"Elle is just, in my opinion, should be a role model for all girls, because she's so strong and fights for what she believes in, and I think you can learn a lot from it but at the same time have fun watching it," Feldman said.

Chloe Harvey, a sophomore who plays Paulette, the lead comedic role, said the show offers some insight into the harm that can be caused by stereotyping.

"People should come see it because I feel like they can get something from it about being true to yourself and not listening to what people say about stereotypes, like blondes are dumb— and that's not true," she said.

But this production doesn't just mark the adoption of edgier material. It has also seen the addition of more modern equipment to the set, including intelligent lights.

"[Intelligent lights are] just LED lights that have a computerized dynamic to them," Hughes said. "The ones that we just bought through our booster organization are actually movable, computerized and they can move anywhere that they need to go during production. We just actually installed them last week. This is the first time we've had lights doing that kind of thing. It's exciting; most shows that are done today professionally have at least one or two of these lights."

In addition, the set has also seen some improvements.

"We have two big towers that we've put up and really we've just had a lot of advancements in our set building and our design work that I think are really shown off in this production," Hughes said.

For Feldman, the changes the department has undergone in her three years taking theater are quite noticeable.

"Well, when I started at Franklin, the shows were not good," she said. "We were given a really low budget. I saw 'MASH,' which was the first show that Mr. Hughes ever did, and we've grown so much from that … and I'm just very proud of how we've expanded."

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Hughes also said that he has been impressed by his students' acting abilities.

"The kids are really [doing] some of the best acting we have to date while I've been at this school," he said.

With a higher production level and talented actors, Hughes said, audience members can expect a performance that showcases the capabilities of his students.

"I think we have 50 kids who are really putting their mind to something and I think they're really excited to show off what they can do, and they're really proud of each other," he said. "Ultimately, I think I'd like people to see how professional and really just how enjoyable these kids can make a performance."

Feldman is one of the performers who has stood out to him during rehearsals.

"This is her last show with us and this is her first really big lead and she's doing a really good job of it," he said. "She and I have been working together — she started [in theater in] my second fall play; she came in when we did 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' and she was kind of convinced to come in and do theater, and she was more of a sports player … and ever since then she's been in all of our shows."

Feldman, who plans to attend Salisbury University in the fall, said that while she's ready to move on from high school, she will miss the drama department.

"It's hard to leave because I've been doing this for three years and this is my eighth show, so it's hard to leave, but at the same time I wouldn't want to leave on any other show but this one."

Hughes said that Harvey has also proven herself as a strong actress in the production.

"She's just really, really funny," he said. "She's kind of a big, loud, boisterous character and she's really hitting those moments and her comedic timing very well."

This will be Harvey's fifth — and most prominent — role as an FHS student.

"This is different because I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a lot because I have a larger role than I have ever had in a production, and it's overwhelming, but people have made me feel very comfortable and I feel like I'm doing a good job so far," she said.

Harvey said Hughes has been an integral part in helping his students harness their artistic abilities.

"He's really good at pulling emotions out of people and showing you things that you never knew about yourself … [and] making you feel confident."

Hughes said he's excited for the audience to see the talent of his students.

"It's going to be really, really just eye-opening for people," he said. "I think it'll surprise people what these kids are capable of, and I think they've really done a great job of it."

Reach Times Staff Reporter Elaina Clarke at 410-857-3316 or via email at elaina.clarke@communitytimes.com.

For more information:

When: 7 p.m. March 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28; 2 p.m. March 21.

Where: 12000 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136.

Cost: $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

Tickets: http://franklinhighdrama.weebly.com/box-office.html.

Show information: http://www.franklinhighdrama.weebly.com.

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