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Under direction: From left, director Kimble Henderson gives acting tips to Andy Bell, Pearly McGrath and Pol Nicholson

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Maybe it proves we’re still a small place, but there are some interesting links amongst actors playing leads in Showbiz Queenstown’s Legally Blonde The Musical, premiering on
Thursday.

The lead role of Elle Woods — made famous by Reese Witherspoon in the earlier film version — is played by well-known muso Pearly McGrath.

Elle’s initial boyfriend is Warner Huntington III, played by Andy Bell.

Warner, however, ditches Elle and starts dating Vivienne Kensington, who’s played by McGrath’s sister, Amber McGrath.

Elle tries to get Warner back, but ends up falling for Emmett Forrest, played by Bell’s husband, Pol Nicholson.

Having such relationships amongst the cast, director Kimble Henderson says, ‘‘makes it really easy for them as actors’’.

Though the sisters are stage rivals, Pearly says the experience has in fact drawn them
closer together.

Legally Blonde is Pearly’s Showbiz debut.

She says rehearsal times have always conflicted with a busy time of the year, but she couldn’t say ‘no’ to this musical.

She calls Elle Woods ‘‘quite irresistible, really’’.

‘‘She’s quirky, funny, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, but she’s like an amazing role model for a woman.

‘‘It’s like feminism without being anti-women, which is what I’m all about.

‘‘I never thought it was a role you could play because I never knew there was a Legally Blonde musical.’’

Pearly’s a survivor from the original cast chosen early last year before the show was postponed a year due to Covid — ‘‘I’ve been blonde for a year, which is good character study’’.

But as a result of people moving away, about half the 28 roles had to be re-auditioned.

‘‘It was bittersweet, ‘cos I loved last year’s cast but then this year’s cast I love as well.’’

Zelia Horrell, who plays Brooke Wyndham and is one of Showbiz’s two publicity officers, says ticket sales to date have been encouraging, despite Covid.

‘‘There was a little bit of nervousness about whether people had the disposable income to come to a show.

‘‘I think what we’re seeing is because people aren’t going on international holidays, they
are still wanting to entertain themselves, they’re still wanting a break from their daily lives and they want to support the local community because Covid has built this idea of ‘support local, stay local’.’’

Horrell says Showbiz shows are also great for creating a community of interest within cast and crew.

‘‘All of my best friends in Queenstown I met through shows or Remarkable Theatre or Margaret O’Hanlon’s shows.’’

Henderson adds: ‘‘It’s a really good sign of the health of a community if there’s a healthy arts thing going on.’’

Legally Blonde The Musical runs at Queenstown Memorial Centre from May 20 to 29, excluding May 24, with a matinee on May 23. Tickets are available from eventfinda

scoop@scene.co.nz