By Rose Brennan & Daniel Molina, Assistant Editor & Editor
Since the success of the Players’ fall drama “12 Angry Jurors”, the spring musical was all of the talk in the Manhattan College performing arts department. Thankfully, after months of strenuous rehearsals, “Legally Blonde” surpassed every expectation, making the last Friday’s diverse audience give a long ovation at the end of the show. Only classifying it as something “extraordinary” would honor the quality of the production.
Senior Siobhan Connor starred in the role of Elle Woods, a member of the Delta Nu sorority at UCLA, who chases her boyfriend Warner Huntington III to Harvard Law School after he dumps her out of fear people will not take him seriously if he pursues a career in politics with Elle at his side. However, once she gets to Harvard, Elle discovers that there might be more to her life than chasing after a man that does not accept her for who she is.
Connor, who is the treasurer on the Players’ executive board, helped propose the idea of staging Legally Blonde as the spring musical. For her, the role of Elle would be a dream come true.
Once the musical’s production was set in stone, Connor spent the majority of the fall semester preparing for her audition. Clearly, her hard work paid off, and she was officially cast as Elle Woods.
“Elle is like a dream role for me, so I cried,” Connor said. “I was in straight-up hysterical tears when I found out I was Elle. I was so excited.”
Once Connor and the rest of the cast was set, rehearsals began with fervor, and the production moved full-speed ahead, transitioning from the Players’ “Box” in Thomas Hall to Smith Auditorium as opening night quickly approached.
The past week, known colloquially as “Hell Week” among the Players, was when all aspects of the show combined to create a truly remarkable production. The days leading up to the play were very time-consuming and strenuous for everyone involved. Connor recalled a 12-hour day that past Sunday, which consisted of tech cues and a complete run-through of the show.
The cast worked together and supported each other through all the ups and downs that putting a show implies. But not only this, a good chemistry was also created with the people in charge of the backstage, better known as the “tech team,” something seen in every show.
From costume and lighting designer to sound assistant, a production team of nearly as many people as the cast invested just as many hours behind the stage making everything look as sharp as it looks when the audience sees it.
Part of this team was Silvana Acierno, freshman and mechanical engineering major, who was the scenic artist of the show; this means, the person in charge of the staging of the play. Although she had previous experience in her high school building sets, Manhattan College represents a different challenge for her.
“This is a lot more intense,” Acierno says. “We are starting to get more kids, but in the beginning there were only three or four people helping out with the stage. But this is also nice because you get to interact with the actors a lot more and you get closer with them; it helps the show to run smoother because everyone know what they are supposed to be doing.”
The effort of creating the stage began the week the crew came back from winter break and, since then, it was a non-stop up until this weekend.
“This set is a lot bigger; it takes the entire stage in Smith,” Acierno told the Quad right before opening night. “Because it is a more complicated plot, we had to make different set pieces for different scenes… it is a larger production in general.”
And then, opening night finally arrived on Thurs., Apr. 6. After months of preparation, the MC community would be able to see the hard-fought and hard-won fruits of the Players’ labor.
Following tremendous success with their opening performance, the shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were sold out in advance. This definitely showed in the foyer of Smith Auditorium on Friday night, which was filled with people prior to the opening of the doors.
Before the first note of the overture even played, the seats were filled and the members of the audience murmured excitedly over what was to come.
The curtain opened, and what was to come, apparently, featured intricate choreography, ensemble numbers with pitch-perfect harmonies and every pink-colored outfit a person could possibly ask for.
A high-quality cast and extenuating hours of rehearsal produced a mix of what Martin Marchitto, the director of the play, classifies as “equal to any program that has a BFA program in acting, with BFA students on it, in this case with students that prepare it as an extracurricular activity.”
Connor was absolutely perfect in the role of Elle, and the audience experienced her ups, downs and in-betweens with her; from getting dumped by Warner to winning her cases in unorthodox but nevertheless effective ways.
Within the events of the musical, Elle befriends a Bostonian hairstylist named Paulette Bonafonte, who was played to hilarious perfection by sophomore Bailey Shaw. Shaw’s Paulette was the perfect combination of funny and moving, especially in her solo “Ireland,” where she pours her heart out singing melancholically about where she believes true love can be found.
In their friendship, Paulette both offers advice to and takes advice from Elle, specifically regarding her affections for UPS delivery boy Kyle, played by Hunter Loos. Together, Loos and Shaw absolutely stole the crowd’s hearts.
Every member of this production, cast, crew or otherwise, worked unbelievably hard to deliver what was truly a fantastic production, which may set a precedent for future musicals at the college.
“Since I started, students were excited about doing some of these bigger shows but they always scared me because it would be the same people in the show also working on the sets and hanging the lights,” according to Marchitto. “But we took a chance on this, I read the script and felt that because of the way the show is told through the music and through the story, I thought we could do it somewhat simplistic.”
So he stripped it down to the very basics of what was needed, and paired with the large number of students that were willing to support the production, “Legally Blonde” came to life.
“Now I feel much more comfortable doing a show that may have more advance technical requirements,” Marchitto said. “I feel that moving forward, some of the shows that we are considering for next year I would have said ‘no way’ but now I am thinking: ‘well, if we have this kind of support we can do that’.”
The musical also featured Samantha Cunningham, Ellen Farrelly and Gabriella Herrera as the Greek chorus of Delta Nu sisters, Matthew LeBoeuf as Emmett Forrest, Bailey, Matthew Peters as Professor Callahan, Peter Martino as Warner Huntington III, Siobhan Noonan as Vivienne Kensington, Megan Lawlor as Brooke Wyndham and Allison Terranova as Enid Hoopes.
Ensemble members included Ryan Askin, Tara Connor, Samuel Corby, Paul Fucao, Gabby Kasper, Ryan L’Abbate, Michelle Lapreay, Tommy Leo, Erin Murphy, Chris Nuzzo, Isabel Quinones, Maria Summerville and Alyssa Zduniak.