East Central University student Keegan Buckaloo is working on an ambitious and unique senior project.
The Sallisaw native is set to direct “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture.
The three performances are set for Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., in the Ataloa Theatre of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and non-ECU students. ECU alumni receive a $1 discount and admission is free to all ECU students, faculty and staff with identification.
It’s not often that a student is picked to direct one of the largest theatrical and musical productions of the 2016-17 ECU Fine Arts Season, but Buckaloo is excited and up to the challenge.
“Not many college students know about classic musicals. This is a really good way for those, who are not involved in arts, to come,” said Buckaloo.
“Legally Blonde: The Musical” will closely follow the script of the highly-successful motion picture, starring Reese Witherspoon and Luke Wilson. Added into this stage production will be 18 full-length songs.
“They all get stuck in your head,” Buckaloo promised. “It’s very funny. A lot of jokes will be pulled out of the movie and there are a lot of references to the movie that people will catch.”
Music and lyrics for the stage production are by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and the book by Heather Hach.
The running time for the production is approximately two hours.
“All the music is pretty upbeat and fast so it won’t drag out,” said Buckaloo.
The main cast includes ECU graduate student Ashlie Echard as Elle Woods; freshman Juan Osegara, of Ada, as Warner Huntington III; ECU alumnus Kaleb Gordon, of Seminole, as Emmett Forrest; Nicole Erwin, a senior from Ada, as Vivienne Kensington; Leah Whiten, a junior from Davis, as Paulette and Philip Newcomer, a senior from Ada, as Professor Callahan.
There are approximately 30 cast members.
Buckaloo has two small parts himself. He will sing a solo as Grand Master Chad and will also portray Kyle, the UPS delivery man, in which Paulette falls for.
The plot centers around Elle Woods, who is a sorority president, California Valley Girl and Miss June in her campus calendar. She dates the cutest fraternity boy on the west coast campus, Warner Huntington III. Elle anticipates Warner will pop the question, but there is a problem. Huntington thinks Elle is too blonde. Warner packs up for Harvard Law School and reunites with an old sweetheart from prep school, Vivian Kensington. Elle decides to follow Warner and apply for law school in an unusual manner to get him back. Once there, Elle ultimately grasps what it takes to be a lawyer.
“Junior high and high school students will enjoy it,” Buckaloo said. “I think a lot of girls could look to Elle as a role model.”
The musical, adapted from the screenplay, was first performed in 2008.
“It’s a pop-culture musical,” said Buckaloo, who was allowed to take the reins of the production from Vickie Reifsnider, musical theatre director in ECU’s Communication and Performance Studies Department.
“I’m looking forward to how the show turns out. It will really be different for me. I’m an actor and a choreographer,” Buckaloo said.
Buckaloo has appeared in past ECU productions such as “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Fiddler on the Roof” and in Ada Community Theatre productions of “Into the Woods,” “Next to Normal,” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
Those who have season passes for the 2016-17 ECU Fine Arts Season can make it a dinner and a show. With their season ticket patron card they can get a 10 percent discount at Rib Crib, Vintage 22 and Santa Fe Steakhouse & Cattle Co. on the night of performances.
Sponsors for the 2016-17 ECU Fine Arts Season include: Communication Federal Credit Union, The Ada News, Score Broadcasting, Hampton Inn and Suites, Vision Bank, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Citizen’s Bank, ECU Bookstore, Vintage 22 and LaQuinta Inns and Suites.