‘What, Like It’s Hard?’: Legally Blonde: The Musical Thrives on Opening Night

The production team of Legally Blonde reflects on their opening night.



A circle of Delta Nu’s whirl around Elle Woods in a quick and ethereal motion before Elle reveals her dress.

Adrie Starkenburg & Rory Manskie

The auditorium energetically and excitedly buzzes as songs that could be found on a modern-day Elle Woods’ playlist – including Ariana Grande’s “Thank U Next” and Taylor Swift’s “The Man” – play through the speakers. Families and friends anxiously find their seats and flip through the programs that are illuminated by the bright magenta stage lights, bringing about eager and palpable anticipation for the iconic “Legally Blonde” journey. The anxious and hopeful conversation that hums throughout the theater’s seats rapidly desists as the background tunes come to an end and the overhead lights dim. As the curtains are pulled back and the opening number begins in a vibrant and boisterous flourish (heavily featuring the color pink and sorority girl elation), everyone in the room collectively holds their breath. Finally, Haley Robinson, dressed in Elle Woods’ signature pink, steps onto the stage, met with a roar of applause from the audience. With a deep exhalation, the “Legally Blonde: The Musical” story begins.

The Central Kitsap High School drama team’s tireless efforts on their spring musical “Legally Blonde” finally came to fruition on the evening of May 12, 2023.

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” opening night saw Haley Robinson as Elle Woods and Mason Laing as Emmett Forrest, alongside Shayla Sutliff as Professor Callahan, Maison Petersen as Warner Huntington III, and Hannah Baugh as Vivienne Kensington.

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” cast and crew in mic checks during opening night preparation. (Rosalie Johnson)

Opening nights often see great success both on and backstage. The first show in front of a live paid audience is both a culmination of zealous rehearsals as well as an opportunity to continue improving the show in all technical and performance aspects.

“Of course there were some little tiny bumps, which is to be expected, but they are just going to continue to get better and better,” CKHS choir teacher and “Legally Blonde” vocal director Alicia Rodenko found.
CKHS English and drama teacher Zach Timm also demonstrated pride and enjoyment from opening night’s performance.

“It went amazing,” Timm said. “I think the cast did really well.”

The exhilaration and excitement shared by the directors was also common amongst the cast and crew, but not without the collective expected yet significant pre-show theater jitters.

However, confidence and comfort amongst the performers kicked into gear onstage as their weeks of dedication, effort, and rehearsal paid off.

“At the beginning, I was really nervous and then when I got on stage, I was like, ‘Oh, everything is fine,’” recalled freshman Lillian Johnson, who played Mrs. Woods.

Elle Woods’ parents – played by Ben Sorna and Lillian Johnson – drive off on a golf cart after learning of their daughter’s intention on entering Harvard Law. (Rory Manskie)

Sophomore Hannah Baugh found confidence and comfort in her own talent and the theater community. “I was really, really nervous to go on but Mason was like ‘Hannah, we’ve done this so many times. You got this,’ and so we went on.”
In spite of the anxieties and nerves that inevitably come with performances, the cast and crew of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” persevered to ensure a memorable show, from the acting and musical talent to the humor in audience engagement.

For many members, the thrill of the stage and the talent of the show made for an invigorating evening.
“It was incredible,” CKHS sophomore Zee Gemmer, who plays Enid Hoops, expressed. “I think everyone did a really good job…The cast did great and the tech did great, and it was amazing – the best we could have hoped for.”

Sophomore Kirsten Perry, who played Chutney Wyndham and was a member of the ensemble, shared this excited outlook on opening night.

“I think that we slayed so much to the point where the roof almost slayed off,” Perry said. “It was a really big slay for us. It was slayful.”

The first day of class in Professor Callahan’s course does not end ideally for Elle Woods. (Rory Manskie)

While onstage performers experience direct interaction with each others’ characters as well as the audience, the stage and tech crew create, set up, and transition settings in addition to guiding the course of the play and analyzing the audience’s reactions and perceptions.

Teddie Schmitt, CKHS senior and longtime theater stage manager of CK productions, shared the sentiment that opening night went well, especially considering the performance and the audience size – in fact, “it was one of the biggest turnouts I’ve seen so far,” Schmitt said.

Not only was the audience showing out, the engagement and enjoyment of the performance stood out to the cast, crew, and directors.

“We had a pretty receptive audience,” Timm said. “They were really enthusiastic with lots of cheering, lots of laughter.”
“The audience was incredible,” recalled Gemmer. “They were on the edge of their seats loving it.”

Cast members were taken aback at the level of audience involvement. The aforementioned laughter was a pleasant and welcomed challenge for the performers.

“I think ‘There, Right There!’ went really well,” said Baugh. “I wasn’t expecting everyone to find it so funny and with the amount of people laughing it was really hard to focus.”

The cheers were also a motivator for the production’s enthusiasm.

“The audience was so excited and they kept cheering and the cheers just fueled me,” added Gemmer. “I felt really happy and proud of ourselves.”

Maison Petersen as Warner and Haley Robinson as Elle sing their duet which ultimately leads to the breakup that sets the stage for the story in “Serious” (Rory Manskie)

This sense of satisfaction was shared amongst the entire production team – the success of opening night highlighted the rehearsal and diligence of each member.

The two leads, Haley Robinson and Mason Laing, performed what Timm found to be the most “moving” song of the night.

“The part of the show that always moves me the most is just the Legally Blonde song,” Timm said. “I feel like Haley and Mason really have a connection that shows up during that song and their vocal ranges are really perfectly suited to that moment. So deeply emotionally moving…I’m proud of them even though I really didn’t have to do much to get them to do it, they were just so ready for that moment.”

Haley Robinson and Mason Laing as Elle Woods and Emmett Forrest meet for the first time on the first day of Harvard Law School. (Rory Manskie)

Rodenko was especially proud of the finale that featured the entire ensemble.

“The chorus worked really hard on the Legally Blonde remix at the end of the show and it was stunning,” she recalled.
Freshman Miles Borer, who played Aaron Schultz and Nikos Argitakos, found great pride in the effort and talent of the entire cast.

“I was very proud,” Borer said. “Everybody played their role perfectly and we were all like a joined team, and it all went great.”

The production will continue to run on the 12th and 13th, and then the following Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with the last showing occurring on May 20th.

Tickets are available online and posters with the QR code can be found plastered throughout the hallways of CKHS.
The production team as a whole is excited to continue the success of the show after a triumphant opening night.
Elizabeth Sorna, a freshman at CKHS and this year’s assistant stage manager for the show, while laughing, said “If things go the way they went yesterday, I think we’re all good.”

Micah Kaczynski as Sundeep Padamanan gestures in a singing performance. (Rory Manskie)

Timm also agreed with this confident sentiment, stating “It’s important that we just stay focused and do our jobs for the next five nights but if opening night is any indicator, the run is going to be really, really great and our audiences are going to love it.”

With over 100 hours of rehearsal being put into this show by the cast, stage crew, directors, and various others that had a hand in the production, the team, the directors in particular, felt a sense of relief following opening night.

“I’m ridiculously, ridiculously proud of these kids who have come from being shy and nervous and getting to know each other and not knowing this music to just owning all of their performances and then getting to see their own excitement afterwards,” said Rodenko.

“With finally being realized for an audience, it was great,” said Timm. “I was exhausted. It was definitely a weight off the shoulders. It’s nice to finally have the validation of the audience. They deserve it.”

The sorority circle surrounding Elle Woods breaks as she powerfully introduces herself in her expected engagement outfit during the “Omigod You Guys” number (Rory Manskie)