The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

‘What, like it’s hard?’: NU Stage takes on ‘Legally Blonde’

Marta Hill
Maria Barrett sings during the opening song “Omigod You Guys.” Despite the difficulty of a musical like Legally Blonde, NU Stage pulled it off, pleasing audiences.

Over the weekend of Nov. 19, Northeastern’s “premier student-run musical theater group,” NU Stage, put on one of its most electric and memorable shows yet: “Legally Blonde.”

Despite the inherent challenge of staging this particular musical — it’s an ambitious choice — the performance exceeded expectations. From an undeniably dazzling cast to an exceptionally talented pit, the show was everything fans of the world-famous story could have hoped for. 

The minute the audience members took their seats to the roaring applause at the show’s end, the cast, crew and pit were poised to perform, ready to give it their all.  

Lauren McDermott, a third-year psychology major and director of “Legally Blonde,” has been a member of NU Stage since her first year. Even after a grueling tech week, McDermott had high hopes for her production.

“It’s been so great building a show that I already know so well,”  McDermott said. “Creating the world that it occurs in and getting to work with my friends while it happens has been really cool.” 

The opening song, “Omigod You Guys,” was a fast-paced, high-energy number that set the bar high for the rest of the performance. Elle Woods’ (Maria Barrett) Delta Nu sorority sisters ran the show for the first few minutes, captivating the audience with demanding choreography and effortful vocals. The pit matched the intensity of the performance, marking the start of an already promising show. 

The introduction to Elle served as a window into the life of a sorority girl from Malibu, California. Barrett, a fifth-year political science and communication studies combined major, perfectly embodied Elle’s essence, from her vocals to her charismatic personality. 

“It’s been absolutely crazy. Since age 11, it’s been my dream role,” Barrett said. “I’ve always said that if I could play one role in my life, I’d want it to be Elle Woods.”

Putting on a show of this caliber took a lot of time and effort from everyone involved. Third-year psychology and music combined major and pit director Emma Zachary admitted she often felt overwhelmed when thinking about the production. 

“If it was a more indie show, people wouldn’t have so many expectations. But since it’s such a well-known, loved, kind of American classic, I do feel a lot of pressure,” Zachary said. 

The week before the show was a frenzy of late rehearsals, fine-tuning the details and pure adrenaline — with a dash of sleep deprivation for most. 

“Bonding happens at tech week, where everyone is kind of delusional, sleep-deprived, hungry, tired. [Everyone] kind of finds solace in each other’s excitement [and] nervousness, and we share the same emotions. You can feel that in the theater,”  Zachary said. 

In just a week, the cast, pit and crew were forced to form a cohesive unit that blends seamlessly before opening night. Despite tensions running high, NU Stage worked through bumps in rehearsals by remaining positive (with a happy attitude!) and working to ensure the show was the best it could be. 

The show’s first act was full of energetic performances, ranging from playful dancing in “What You Want” and “Positive” to captivating solos in “Blood In The Water” and “Ireland.” Every cast member put their own creative spin on their roles, fully bringing the characters to life on stage.

“The cast is insane. Everyone is so talented — I was so blown away. I remember being absolutely floored by some of the performances people were giving,” Barrett said. 

With every set change came a short yet impressive musical filler from the pit, as the stage crew moved set pieces back and forth. Zachary kept the pit afloat with her conducting, where she was able to truly enjoy every moment of the pit’s performance. 

“We’re in the dark, and you can hear us, but you’re not watching us. And it makes a difference if we’re not there, but you almost don’t notice that we are there unless we sound, like, amazing,”  Zachary said. 

Stage, lighting, costume and props designers were acknowledged by McDermott at the start of the show, who asked the audience to cheer when set pieces were brought out and moved in between songs. Each group truly honored the nature of the show, from the vibrant lighting to the intricate costumes. 

“Everyone is definitely killing it,”  McDermott said. “Everyone works well together, and they all want the show to look good.”

The second act packed the same amount of energy and intensity brought forth by its predecessor. It opened with an impressive feat from both the choreographer and cast members in “Whipped Into Shape,” where actors used jump ropes to accentuate the scene. The actors seemingly never tired in their four-minute performance of pure cardio, shocking the audience into applause. 

Later in the second act, the chemistry between Elle and Emmett (Frankie Nieman) shined through in their performances together, where Barrett praised her co-star for making her feel more comfortable when performing. 

“I always felt like people were rooting for me to succeed. So, knowing that people had my back made a huge difference,” Barrett said. “The pressure was all self-imposed. It went away once I realized how unserious it all is. It’s all for fun, there’s no reason to get all worked up about it.” 

“Legally Blonde” is an undoubtedly difficult musical to undertake. However, NU Stage has proven itself with this past production. By learning intimidating songs and devoting hours of their time to rehearsals, the musical theatre organization has truly put on a show that will be remembered.

“It’s such a fun show. I want people to leave feeling light,” Barrett said.  “I love the idea of people relating to Elle’s story. It’s extremely fictitious, but I want people to leave feeling like, ‘Wow! That was a fun way to spend my night.’”

About the Contributors
Rachana Madhav, Deputy Opinion Editor
Rachana Madhav is a third-year behavioral neuroscience major and english minor. She is currently working as deputy opinion editor of The News. She is excited to provide a platform for those with ideas and opinions, and very eager to read anyone's work. You can follow her on Instagram at @anna_rac7.
Marta Hill, Editor-at-Large
Marta Hill (she/her) is a fourth-year journalism major and the editor-at-large of The News. Before becoming editor-in-large, she served as editor-in-chief for a year and previously held the positions of campus editor, deputy campus editor and a variety of staff roles. Marta currently works for NASA as a science writer and hopes to keep the entire campus community up to date on matters concerning Northeastern. You can follow her @martajhill on Twitter.
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