Arts News

‘Legally Blonde The Musical’ is Pure Escapism

The seven-time Tony-nominated musical based on Amanda Brown’s novel and the 2001 film is taking to the Capitol Theatre stage. The Legally Blonde The Musical professional touring company presents a limited six-day, eight-show run, March 23–28.

 

“It’s strange,” said Michael Rupert who reprises his 2007 Broadway role as Professor Callahan. “It’s been 12 years since my last tour, which was for Ragtime. We only did five cities in a year’s time. We’d sit in each city for about two months, now it’s only a week.”

Or as with Seattle, a three-week stint, and where QSaltLake caught up with Rupert. He was still feeling a little croggy from sleep; he’d had gotten up at 5 a.m. to see his partner off to catch a flight back to their home in New York City. Even with a clouded head Rupert generously spoke about his background and the musical production with whimsy and candor.

Rupert was born in Denver in 1951, and grew up in Los Angeles, so it was only natural, said Rupert, as a kid to tryout acting. “I did a play when I was about 11 years old and my parents were cool with it, you know, but they didn’t really expect me to go on and make a career out of it. They thought it would be something fun to do as a kid and then go on to become a dentist or something.”

As luck would have, Rupert became an instant child star. “An agent saw me doing the play and asked my parents if she could represent me and set me up for jobs,” said Rupert. “And she did. I started doing mostly television and film work in Los Angeles for about four years. Then when I was 15 I was cast (from Los Angeles) in a Broadway show, called The Happy Time.”

Rupert whisked off to New York and did the show for about year, at which time he knew what he wanted to do as a career, to be a stage actor. His first run on Broadway was a huge success for Rupert; at the young age of 15, he garnered a Tony nomination for his role in The Happy Time. “I didn’t take it seriously,” admiitted Rupert of his nomination. “I just thought ‘Oh, this is fun.’ You know, I was a typical teenager.” But, Rupert contined, “It was great going to the awards [show] and hanging out with all those stars.”

It would be nearly 20 years later, and two more Tony nods, before Rupert would finally receive the prestigous award. His role as Oscar, Charity’s boyfriend, in Sweet Charity, the ’80s revival with Debbie Allen, secured him a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. He went on to do three more Broadway musicals: Mail (for which he also wrote the music), City of Angels and Falsettos (Tony nomination) before originating the role of Professor Callahan in the 2007-08 run of Legally Blonde The Musical.

But before the bleached-blonde could be washed out, the show went on a national tour. It received three 2009 Touring Broadway Awards for Best New Musical, Best Choreography of a Touring Production and Best Production Design.

Rupert said of the show’s success, “I think Legally Blonde [The Musical] is incredibly entertaining theater. Any age seems to have a really great time. It’s a very funny show and an endearing story. It’s a story that has a lot of heart and it’s very smartly written and the musical lyrics are terrific.”
“I mean if you’re going to look for deep, meaningful theater, forget it,” he continued. “It’s pure escapism, but with heart and a lot of passion behind it.”

“We’ll get the whole audience up to do the ‘bend-and-snap’ at the end of the show,” Rupert joked.

After the remaining 23-week tour, Rupert will set off for Ohio to direct a local production of Breaking the Code, a play by Hugh Whitemore about Alan Turing, a homosexual mathematician, who played a key role in breaking the German Enigma code during World War II.

The show runs March 23–28 at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South. Tickets $35–62.50, 801-355-ARTS or arttix.org.

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