From Feb. 18 to March 6, the Sunnyvale Community Players is running “Legally Blonde The Musical JR.,” a youth production featuring 34 talented young actors and actresses, split up into two casts.
According to Producer Ramesh Krishnan, the cast, crew, staff and audience members are required to be fully vaccinated. Audience members must be masked and bring proof of vaccination to be permitted to see the shows. Although actors wear masks during rehearsals, they will not be masked during actual shows.
In “Legally Blonde,” Elle Woods, a new adult teenybopper, pursues a law degree at Harvard University, and a story about perseverance against opposing forces ensues. During the Feb. 6 rehearsal, Marissa Young, 17, who plays Elle in the “Bend” cast, and Yonatan Brutman, 13, who plays Emmett in the “Snap” cast, shared their sweet singing voices during solos.
Preparing for a youth musical production during a pandemic is quite a feat. The production staff of the Sunnyvale Community Players began this process with safety as their top priority. They addressed a number of logistical challenges to better promote wellness among cast members.
“We have twice the number of costumes and props, so no one has to share,” Director Katie Elder said. “Props need to be wiped down between use. So, everything takes a little bit longer.”
According to Elder, the pandemic has also changed the structure of learning and teaching a show.
“For example, we have a smaller number of people in the theater at one time, which means both casts do not get to rehearse with each other as much,” Elder said. “There are less bonding opportunities. It is difficult for the casts to have to dance and sing in masks 100 percent of the time, especially when I know that all of them were in school before rehearsal. So, they have been in masks all day long.”
Elder explained the meaning behind “Find My Way/Finale,” one of the musical numbers.
“The finale is really telling of the entire story’s message,” Elder said. “It’s all the people who have helped Elle Woods along her journey coming together. It’s about Elle’s discovery of herself but also that the people who have supported her are more important than the people who have hindered her. Our casts of children have really had to come together to overcome these obstacles with COVID.”
During the rehearsal, the actors danced in musical theater jazz with touches of modern dance moves.
“For this show, I try to space people out a little bit more on the stage to give a little bit more social distance,” Choreographer Jennifer Tipton said. “In this case, this helps to fill out the stage, so it all works out.
“I try to keep people from touching, and this show does not call for a lot of touching,” Tipton continued. “There are only two scenes where there is some light touching when there are two partners who dance. Having the kids all being vaccinated alleviates some of the anxiety of being together on stage.”
For tickets to Legally Blonde The Musical JR. visit sunnyvaleplayers.org.