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Glenwood Springs, Rifle high schools’ spring musicals open Friday

Jessica Cabe
jcabe@postindependent.com
Shrek (Colby Rennie) rescues Fiona (Brinley Berrett) from her tower
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You go...

Who: Glenwood Springs High School

What: “Legally Blonde”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 20-21 and 27, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Feb. 28

Where: Jeannie Miller Theater at Glenwood Springs High School

How Much: $12 for adults, $8 for students and $8 for all at the matinee

Who: Rifle High School

What: “Shrek the Musical”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 20-21 and 27, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Feb. 28

Where: Rifle High School auditorium

How Much: $10 for adults, $7 for students, seniors and Garfield-Re 2 employees. Children under the age of 4 are free. Family tickets are $30 for four and an additional $3 for each member after that

The spring musicals at Glenwood Springs and Rifle high schools have more in common than their opening nights. They’re both based on popular movies from 2001, and they both have a message of empowerment and self-love.

Glenwood Springs is staging “Legally Blonde,” and Rifle is putting on “Shrek the Musical.” Both show opens at 7 p.m. today in the school’s respective auditoriums.

“Legally Blonde” is based on the movie starring Reese Witherspoon about a ditzy sorority girl who applies to Harvard Law School to impress and win back her very smart and serious ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington, III.

“It’s about empowerment,” said director Kate McRaith. “Definitely female empowerment and women coming into their own strength with confidence and making a difference. But also for a couple of the male characters, too, they gain in confidence, grow and get the courage to stand out on their own.

“But for me, the line that really crystallizes what it’s about is after one scene when Vivienne, one of the leads, has made Elle look really stupid and gotten her kicked out of class. And when they leave the classroom, Elle says to Vivienne, ‘Why would you do that to another girl?’ That’s a really key scene because it’s about sisterhood, sticking together and empowering and supporting each other as opposed to fighting and being in competition with each other. I think it’s super relevant.”

In a time when society often tells women they need to be cut-throat in order to succeed in certain professions, this message of support and sisterhood can inspire audiences in all walks of life. But in addition to its positive message, “Legally Blonde” is just plain fun.

“It’s very lively,” McRaith said. “There are some great songs, and there are some really, really awesome dances. It’s just a high-energy, fun show with a positive message — or two.”

For senior Emily Lohman, who plays Elle, this has been her favorite role.

“I just love Elle’s energy,” Lohman said. “She just brings so much fun to the show.”

Lohman and seniors Patrick McGarry, Jr., who plays Warner, and Kevin Snyder, who plays Elle’s TA Emmett, said one of the biggest challenges of the musical has been learning the music, but it’s also been the most fun and rewarding part.

“The music is really, really complicated,” McGarry said. “You start in places you never would think to start, so you have to really focus on what the pit is doing and where they are so you can be on time with them.”

Snyder said it’s also been a challenge to lead such a large cast of 47, but his favorite part was working with the other members.

“I think my favorite part in all the shows I’ve ever done is just getting to work with everyone and be friends with people in the show who I might not talk to otherwise,” he said.

Lohman said the high energy and positive messages are sure to be audience pleasers.

“Being true to yourself never goes out of style,” she said with her best Elle Woods smile.

“Shrek the Musical” has something to say about being true to yourself, too, even if you’re an ogre.

“I think the show really is about learning to love yourself,” said director Tiffany Brinkman. “More than that, it’s also learning to have a self-efficacy: seeing who you really are.”

Both Shrek, played by senior Colby Rennie, and Fiona, double cast for seniors Shannon Rossilli and Brinley Berrett, go on a journey of self-acceptance throughout the musical, which is very close to the popular movie. Shrek is an ogre content to keep to himself after a lifetime of bullying for his looks, and Fiona is a princess locked in a tower and cursed to turn into an ogre every night until she finds her true love and is allowed to take her true form.

“There are a lot of things I like about her,” Rossilli said of Fiona. “She starts out not as confident because she’s never been out in society before, and she’s never experienced other people or other ogres. So she’s a little nervous in the beginning, but as she goes through, there’s this awesome progression where she begins to find who she is, and she begins to get more and more confident.

“I think I can really relate to that because that’s kind of what high school has been like. You start out as the nervous little freshman, and then you become more confident as you go. This year I’ve become a more confident person, so it’s really fun to play that progression throughout the play.”

Berrett said in addition to Fiona’s journey to self-acceptance, she’s also just a really fun character to play.

“I love how dorky she is,” she said. “I can really just be myself and have a good time with it because she just has fun. I really like that about her.”

This is Rennie’s first lead role at Rifle, though he’s been in every musical since his freshman year and was also in the high school’s production of “Les Miserables” when he was in 7th grade. He said his favorite part about theater is being able to shed his skin on stage and take on the role of someone else. But he has a less serious reason for loving his role in this particular musical.

“Donning the fat suit is the best,” he said. “It’s the greatest.”

Like Snyder in “Legally Blonde,” Rossilli said the best part of “Shrek the Musical” is being able to work with the whole cast and crew.

“I think the thing that is most exciting for me is being able to share this with all the people because a lot of the cast have become like my family, and I’ve known them for a long time,” she said. “It’s fun to laugh and be frustrated together. It’s just awesome to share the experience with them.”


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