More than meets the eye
Empowerment is the theme of Wilsonville High School's upcoming musical — especially for the young women in the audience.
Starting the first week of November, the WHS Performing Arts Department will combine musical numbers, choreography and an intricate set to recreate the Broadway-inspired "Legally Blonde, The Musical."
Elle Woods, played by sophomore Kaiya Shivers, is the lead in this romantic comedy that focuses on the character's journey to find herself and break free from society's beauty standards. From the party-girl lifestyle to chasing a shallow idea of love and applying to Harvard Law School, she eventually puts head to books and rids the "blonde" stereotype she originally presented proudly.
"I see it as a hero's journey of a female character," Director Jason Katz said. "You don't have that a lot in stories."
Katz said he always wanted to direct "Legally Blonde, The Musical" because he thought it was a modern and fun opportunity for students to take on a musical with slightly more adult themes.
Shivers is looking forward to opening day because it's the first lead of her high school career. And, of course, it's her favorite movie.
"She's true to herself the entire time and she finds out things she never would have found out if she didn't try to reach for her dreams," Shivers said. "I think for girls, just (knowing) that they can be more than standards that some people set for them. So Elle just kind of reaches for the stars."
For several cast members, jumping into a new character's lifestyle is exciting.
Junior Kameron Koslowski, playing Professor Callahan, enjoys exploring the lives of characters and junior Grace Folske, playing Vivienne, Elle's nemesis and girlfriend of Elle's love interest, agrees.
"The last play I was in, I was bubbly, in love with the guy. I was very optimistic, very positive. This girl ... gets to be quite rude, which is fun to play," Folske said. "It's so cool to see everyone changing their attitudes when they're playing their characters."
The set, which has several moving parts, is a unique aspect of the show.
"The set for this one is really, really elaborate. I was wondering how we were going to be able to pull it off but we're pulling it off really well and the techs are doing an amazing job getting it together," said junior Noah Hansen, playing Warner, Elle's love interest for the first half of the musical. "We have such a great group of people coming in on the weekend to build the set and it's shaping together really nicely."
Senior Peyton Guenther, who plays Paulette Bonafonte, is looking forward to working with dogs.
The musical performance includes two dogs — one for Shivers and one for Guenther.
"I've worked with children but never live animals so I'm super excited to get to grow as an actor working with them," Guenther said. "I'm anticipating it's going to be a challenge, but I don't think it's anything a leash and a treat can't fix."
Many students agree the underlying message of female empowerment is what sets this show apart.
Katz added that the timing of the performance is especially relevant considering the proliferation of high profile sexual abuse allegations in the news — Elle is sexually harass-
ed during a scene in the musical.
"I think for young women today to look at ... how does she deal with that and how does she bounce back from being treated that way?" Katz said.
There will be six evening performances at 7 p.m. in the WHS auditorium. Performances will be Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 8-10.
The show is recommended for ages 13 and up.
IF YOU GO
When: Nov. 1-3, 8-10
Where: WHS auditorium, 6800 S.W. Wilsonville Road
Time: 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 for adults, $10 for students and children