Blonde moment, the musical

Michaela Williams, star of “Legally Blonde”, with her co-star chihuahua Violet, “the Princess of Melba”. Photo by Andrew Campbell

Michaela Williams, star of “Legally Blonde”, with her co-star chihuahua Violet, “the Princess of Melba”. Photo by Andrew Campbell

THERE’S no shortage of jokes about blondes and acting with animals when “CityNews” meets the stars, producer and director of Free Rain theatre’s upcoming production “Legally Blonde the Musical”, a show likely to pull in a much younger demographic than is usual for musicals.

Centre-stage is the petite chihuahua Violet, “the Princess of Melba”, who gets to play Bruiser opposite glamorous performer Michaela Williams from Sydney.

Williams, for her part, has just undergone a seven-hour ordeal with a hairdresser, transforming her from her natural brunette to the physical and intellectual status known as “being blonde”, of which she says: “I don’t mind it all that much, I’m getting used to it.”

She plays Elle Woods, the smart but apparently dumb blonde who trounces everybody at Harvard Law School.

A graduate of the Australian Institute of Music, Williams has performed in “Dance Academy” and in “Hairspray”, playing another “dumb but not-so-dumb” character, Penny, in whom she sees a certain similarity to Elle. Her agent will be in the audience on opening night, so she hopes it won’t mean getting typecast in future.

Williams tells “CityNews” she’s never seen a professional production of the musical and prefers to remain in ignorance.

Director of the show, Derek Walker, a NIDA graduate who taught drama at Canberra Grammar School a few years ago, says he had cast Williams and her opposite number, Sydney actor Damon Grebert-Wade, in open audition here.

“I never direct a show I can’t cast,” he said as he and producer Anne Somes hasten to assure us that there were plenty of Canberra actors in the cast who get on very well with the two non-human stars.

But inevitably during our photocall, all eyes are on the diminutive but extrovert Australian champion chihuahua Violet, whose owner, Kimberly Mackrell, reveals that she doesn’t like sharing a dressing room with other dogs and “absolutely hates” the pug playing Rufus the bulldog.

As Williams entices her canine co-star to smile for the camera, photographer Andrew Campbell insists Violet get back into the pink overcoat she arrived in since, he informs us, “one of the abiding themes in ‘Legally Blonde’ is the love of pink.”

Readers shouldn’t expect ever to see the stand-in chihuahua, Angel, on stage. Violet is used to being top dog and, as Mackrell confirms, she can be terrifyingly “cattish” when threatened.

“Legally Blonde the Musical” at the ANU Arts Centre, July 4-27, bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au

 

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