Photo Gallery: Brighton High School Among First to Perform 'Legally Blonde, The Musical'
The student production takes the stage Friday at the Brighton Center for Performing Arts.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Legally Blonde, The Musical will open on a Michigan stage for the first time as a high school production.
According to director Michelle Holowicki, Brighton High School was the first school in the country to obtain rights to perform the show as this year's musical.
Since then, other schools have obtained rights and performed the show, which is based on the popular movie starring Reese Witherspoon as a sorority queen who follows her boyfriend to Harvard Law School to win him back and learns she actually likes — and is good at — practicing law.
Brighton's students began rehearsing in October and have put many hours into the production.
"It's a huge committment," Holowicki said. "These kids balance rehearsals with other sports and activities like pom, swim and cross-country. And a lot of them are high achievers doing very well in school. Most of them balance part-time jobs as well."
Holowicki said the set for this musical was the most complicated and expensive set the school has ever built — and she hopes to sell off pieces after the production is finished.
"Last year, we sold pieces of Bye Bye Birdie," she said. "This set is similar to the original Broadway production — with a two-story house and staircase. Those items weren't on the national tour, so we tried to mimic the Broadway set."
This is also the first time that the school musical will be performed in January. In past years, it was performed in fall and spring. Holowicki said her and the other directors booked the dates last year to coordinate with the spring play to cast and rehearse.
She also said that opening night falling on Friday the 13th was completely coincidental.
"The students are brushing it off," she said of the superstition behind the day.
Senior Luke Ellis plays the role of Warner Huntington III in the musical. This is the first time he tried out for the school musical.
"Watching Tyler Smith do Bye Bye Birdie last year inspired me to give it a try because he was a good friend of mine and did such a great job and made it look fun," Ellis said. "It's been a great experience. Meeting all the people has been great — I didn't know 95 percent of the cast, and now I've met a lot of people and made a lot of friends."
While Ellis had never done a musical before, senior Stephanie Lijewski had participated in three shows — but this is her first time in a lead role. Lijewski was cast as the main character, Elle Woods.
"I've always had supporting roles," she said. "I'm shocked and honored to be chosen and that people think I'm good enough to play the part."
Senior Lindsay Harkins has participated in the school musical every year of her high school career. She and her sister got into musicals after seeing the Broadway show Wicked several years ago.
"I love these people, and you can't beat the rush of performing and being on stage," she said.
Harkins plays the role of Vivian — Warner's new Ivy League girlfriend.
"This is my first reading role ever, so I'm both nervous and excited," she said. "I'm not good at singing and dancing at the same time."
Harkins said her favorite part about playing Vivian is her attitude.
"She's so mean that it's terrible fun," Harkins said. "It's a lot of fun to go overboard the way she does."
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20-21; and 4:30 p.m. Jan. 22. Tickets cost $15 and are available online.