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McCracken presents 'Legally Blonde' musical

By MASON BLANFORD mblanford@paducahsun.com

McCracken County High School's upcoming "Legally Blonde: The Musical" explores several themes -- perhaps most of all, staying true to one's self.

The school's last show this school year -- premiering at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday at the high school -- follows sorority girl Elle Woods as she enrolls in Harvard Law School to prove she's more than just a blonde stereotype.

Director Mary Bowden said the show holds several lessons, but one central tenet is: "Being yourself never goes out of style."

"I think what's most attractive in life is when someone is unapologetically themselves," Bowden said.

As the role of Elle, 18-year-old Kendel Ponchock is excited -- and not only because this is the school's first show with a female lead. She said the values of friendship and defying stereotypes are mutually explored.

"I relate to her because she's been told 'no,'" said Ponchock, a senior. "She's been told she can't do something, and she decides she's going to show them -- and she prevails."

The play's female friendships are what drew Ponchock to the production, exemplified by the line: "We need to stick together, we can't try to look good by making each other look bad."

"That's something (Elle) carries in the show," she said. "There are romantic relationships, but the ones that stick out to me are the female friendships, like between Elle and her best friend, Paulette."

Playing Paulette Bonafonté is junior Jessie Elliott, 17, who helps Elle defy how others see her.

"I think (Paulette) brings much to the story as she helps Elle find herself, because Paulette is very 'herself' all the time," Elliott said. "She helps Elle through this journey of discovering herself and what she wants."

Senior Barton Christmas -- as Elle's ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntingon III -- is the "no" that initially spurs the lead to prove herself.

Despite his character's blunt rejection, Christmas doesn't fully view him as the antagonist.

"From then on she's got a reason to fight," said Christmas, 18. "But I don't think Warner is (necessarily) a bad person, just kind of ignorant. He doesn't (always) realize what he's doing is wrong. â ¦ You realize eventually Elle has outgrown him."

A student on the Harvard waitlist himself, Christmas saw relevance to his own life in the musical as he prepares for the rigors of college.

"One theme I think stands out is if you're in a room with people, every person got into that room on their own merit," he said. "They earned their spot, like Elle got into Harvard. I think she deserves to be there regardless of what Warner thinks."

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Cameron Durbin plays perhaps the true antagonist of the film, Professor Callahan, who calls Elle "legally blonde" at one point.

"He's the jerk of the show," said Durbin, a junior. "He's a good (law) professor, but ultimately he's willing to do whatever it takes to make himself happy."

For Christmas and Ponchock, this was their final show at McCracken County High School.

"If the book has to close, it's a good page to end on," said Christmas, who will be attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, this fall.

Ponchock is moving on to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia as a performing arts major.

"This is a good note to end on," she agreed. "And it's not even bittersweet, because I know we'll be back all the time and we'll always have something going on here."

Tickets range from $10-15 and can be bought at gomccracken.com, or at the door.

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