A night at the theatre doesn’t have to break the bank, and Durham Region’s very own Oshawa Little Theatre is close to home and offers high quality shows at an affordable price, all staged by volunteers.
This season’s focus is on girl power, and how a certain blonde young woman defies expectations and proves that a girl can have both beauty and brains.
OLT’s production of Legally Blonde The Musical is directed and produced by Janet Gilliland and Liz Pask. It follows the fun and quirky journey of Elle Woods as she ventures to Harvard Law, hoping to win back her boyfriend with an impressive degree.
The musical follows the same story as the well-known 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon. However, the musical differs by featuring upbeat, playful show tunes and exciting choreography that take a new spin on the story of Elle Woods.
Woods, played by local actress Nicole Daniels, sends a message throughout the show to young women saying it’s important to embrace your own beauty, but beauty does not define a woman.
Director Gilliland says the message of the show is empowering, and allows young women to find the courage to own their strengths.
“It’s not how we look that defines us. There’s power in everybody – you just need to find that within yourself,” she says. “The journey of Elle is everybody’s journey… it’s a very positive, powerful piece.”
The production features a variety of men and women of all ages, and uses a strong ensemble to support the story and wow audiences with thrilling choreography.
Auditions for the show ran in the spring of 2016, with production beginning the the fall. Rehearsals take place ten hours a week, and focus on vocal training, learning choreography, and practicing lines.
Pask, the show’s producer, says her favourite thing about OLT is the group of volunteers.
Every member of the production works on their own time without pay, putting their hearts into something bigger than themselves. She says the hobby is a disciplined one, but rewards with the promise of fulfillment when the curtain finally rises on opening night.
OLT has been known for more than 60 years in Oshawa for hosting high-quality festivals, plays, and musicals. Its purpose has always been providing the community with entertainment through local talent and artistic diversity.
The volunteer-based productions go up seasonally, featuring past shows such as Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd, and Les Misérables.
Gilliland says she loves to volunteer because of her pride for the end result of the productions.
“There are shows that we put on here that are just as good, and sometimes better, than what you would see at a Mirvish production,” Gilliland says. “That’s not being biased, I think that if we had the facilities or the money that Mirvish has behind their productions, we would far exceed them… because the people involved in our shows are one hundred per cent volunteers.”
OLT’s team spends 15-20 hours per week working on their projects, and all volunteers work from a strong passion for the arts. The sole motivation for the volunteers at the end of the grueling process is the audience’s reaction to the final product.
Gilliland is excited for opening night. She hopes the show is solid.
“My final vision for the show is that [the cast] will engage the audience from the very first note and keep them in their seats,” Gilliland says. “I want people to leave here singing the songs.”
Legally Blonde The Musical takes place at Oshawa Little Theatre on April 6 and runs until April 22. Tickets cost $28, and are available through OLT’s website or at the venue’s box office.