By Eula Mengullo, April 27 2022—
This summer, Musical Theatre UCalgary (MTU) is hosting its first mainstage performance, Legally Blonde: The Musical. In a virtual interview with the Gauntlet, Megan Kerrigan — founder of Musical Theatre UCalgary and a recent graduate from the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary — talks about the significance of establishing a club dedicated to individuals with a passion for musical theatre.
Established in 2019, Musical Theatre UCalgary was supposed to deliver its first show but was unfortunately interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since their comeback in the fall of 2021, MTU has fundraised for their winter mainstage musical, Ex-Wives Cabaret, which provided them with enough funds to host this summer’s musical performance of Legally Blonde.
“And so [Legally Blonde] is our first mainstage production, which is entirely student-funded, produced and run,” Kerrigan explained. She also highlighted that the individuals involved in the production are not only undergraduate performance art students but also includes those who love doing theatre performances.
Legally Blonde is most popularized as a classic movie, although it has been adapted into a musical production. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority-president-turned-law student as she goes after her ex-boyfriend, Warner, to Harvard Law School.
Kerrigan noted that this musical version of Elle Woods is a lot more spunk and less of the sweet-sorority-girl that she was in the film. Although winning her ex-boyfriend back is what prompted Elle to pursue a legal education, she eventually discovers her passion for the law while making new friends along the way. Her inspiring journey to self-discovery is the overarching theme of the performance.
“There is so much more to her than what meets the eye. Instead of falling back in love with Warner, she falls in love with law school instead. She goes from wanting to be her ex-boyfriend’s wife to being a kick-ass law student who eventually ends up being the class valedictorian,” Kerrigan explained.
She also underlined that a musical adaptation is the best way of portraying the protagonist because of the emotions that the music conveys in the performance.
“You get to see all of the emotions play out because songs add a lot more emotion to a one-line sentence,” Kerrigan said. “The reason why we sing on stage is that we have a feeling that cannot be put into words, it has to be sung.”
Some themes that the audience can expect are show-stopping, powerful numbers from the entire ensemble and plenty of comical scenes from the characters.
In talking about the inspiration behind establishing MTU, Kerrigan elaborated on the essence of providing more musical theatre performance opportunities to students of all academic backgrounds. She also addressed the lack of musicals at U of C and emphasized the importance of story-telling through the “triple threat” skillset of singing, dancing and acting that a musical performance entails.
“Musical Theatre UCalgary was created because we wanted to provide musical theatre opportunities on campus since the School of Creative and Performing Arts does not have a musical theatre program and they also do not host musicals,” said Kerrigan. MTU is open to all students who are looking to have access to musical performances in university as they did in high school.
Like every club on campus that had to constantly pivot with the developing COVID-19 guidelines, this also presented unique challenges to MTU, especially in holding rehearsals and auditions for the anticipated summer production. Specifically, Kerrigan noted how difficult it was to find people who were willing to commit their time to make the show come to life since it was entirely student-funded.
“It has been hard to find people who want to commit to the show and consistently show up every day and give their hundred and ten percent because of COVID,” said Kerrigan. “Since [the performance] is unpaid, the only incentive to be there was based on how people loved performing.”
As a new club, Kerrigan hopes that the Legally Blonde production would help to establish MTU as a hub for students who love performing and encourage those who want to partake in nearly professional productions.
The musical will be performed June 16-18 in Boris Roubakine Recital Hall at the University of Calgary. Tickets to the show can be purchased through this link.