As GMTG’s Legally Blonde takes to the Deb Hall stage, Culture presents their preview of the production
With term one now in full swing and each society planning their events for the upcoming year, Guild Musical Theatre Group (GMTG) can be seen to be well ahead of the game. Their term one main show, the acclaimed Legally Blonde the Musical, has recently held their auditions, cast their parts, and began the arduous rehearsal process just three weeks into the Autumn term.
Kindly, multiple members of the production agreed to speak with me and explain what happens behind the scenes of GMTG, including Tash Wills, President of GMTG. She explained that prospective shows are not the choices of the committee, rather they are decided through a proposal and voting process with input from the entire society. Potential directors and their would-be production teams pitch their ideas and let their peers decide the winning choice. All the way back in May, Legally Blonde and its production team (led by director Thomas Kershaw-Green) won out, announcing on social media that they would be bringing the musical to the Deb Hall stage come November.
When asked ‘Why Legally Blonde’, Kershaw-Green spoke of the fun, exciting nature of the production, citing that the ‘wonderful company feel,’ and the fact ‘everyone has a part to play’ are what makes the musical so enticing. In addition, Legally Blonde is strongly underpinned by deeper issues that many audience members might relate to in today’s political and social climate. Protagonist Elle Woods, a fierce feminine character, is subject to sexual harassment instigated by a Professor, an event that impacts her decisions and choices throughout the remainder of the show. These hard-hitting topics cast parallels with the campaigns of the #MeToo movement – a protest that has been instrumental to giving victims of harassment a worldwide voice, and one that we can all be sure Elle Woods would have strived to advocate for if given the chance.
While speaking to Wills and Kershaw-Green, the topic of diversity was also prevalent. GMTG’s last main show was a spectacular rendition of Hairspray during the 2017/18 Summer term, and diversity was showcased abundantly. While Legally Blonde may not, at first glance, offer the same opportunities, Wills noted that GMTG ‘would not want to choose a show for the sole purpose of diversity’, for fear of it being considered forced (not to mention it might go against the voting process GMTG abides by). On the other hand, the committee are pleased that Hairspray has seemingly encouraged more people, of all diverse backgrounds, to audition for their productions, and they continue to hope that the diversity and inclusivity shown in Hairspray will be continued into future shows produced by GMTG.
When it came to the Legally Blonde auditions, the entire committee and production team were thrilled that so many freshers have auditioned this year. Emily Taylor, an external student, will take on the fabulous role of Elle Woods, while multiple freshers will be portraying principle characters. Kershaw-Green was ecstatic regarding the “amount of talent” the University showcased. Himself and the show’s musical director, Alice Brown, explained how truly difficult it was to narrow down the final cast, and how petrifying a process it is having to disappoint people. “It’s easy to forget you have this horrible responsibility in the midst of the excitement, it’s feels a little treacherous”, Brown said mournfully, before perking up, “We’re very excited about the cast we have though!”
Indeed, now they had their cast, we spoke about the upcoming rehearsals, the first of which was that very night. At the reminder, Kershaw-Green and Brown grinned from ear to ear and cited they ‘honestly could not wait to get started’. They’ve been making notes and revisions all summer long and even redesigned the set a total of four times (since writing the first draft of this article even more changes have been made, so one could argue that total has risen to five). Kershaw-Green seemed relieved to finally be beginning the next step, while Brown wisely stated that “the prep on paper is all done, now it’s just a case of building everything and bringing it all together!” The rehearsals start with read throughs, and then they’ll be focusing on the dance numbers as Legally Blonde is, in Kershaw-Green’s words, ‘quite a dance-y show’, and those energetic performances will provide good bonding experiences for the cast.
As we finished our conversation, I asked them what they were most looking forward to about the upcoming production. Brown was quick to reply with, ‘the cast curry!’, a tradition whereby the entire cast and production team have a meal together post the first rehearsal. Besides that, their answers were almost identical – seeing their ideas come to life on the stage. ‘We got teary eyed in auditions.” Kershaw-Green said. “We saw two people acting together during the call backs and the production team started to get teary eyed – you can see it coming together, that’s the most exciting thing.’
The production opened on the Deb Hall Stage on the 27th of November and will run until the 1st of December. More information can be found on GMTG’s facebook page.