The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 31, 2020 1:00 am

SPOTLIGHT: 'Legally Blonde' cast on the show, quarantine and more

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

In Civic Theatre's production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical," Ashton Barnhouse plays Warner Huntington III, Alayna Thornton plays Paulette Buonufonte and Thom Greving plays Emmett Forrest. Limited seating remains for some shows next weekend. Go to for tickets.

The actors answered several questions about the show by email:

Q. If someone was to create a mural based on your character, what would be included?

Barnhouse: For Warner, the main theme of the mural would definitely include picture of Harvard and the United States Capitol Building because he doesn’t shut up about becoming a senator.

Thornton: First and foremost, the main focus of this mural would for sure be a picture of her dog, Rufus. There would be elements describing the second most important thing to her which is her heritage, part Italian (from her mom) and very Irish (from her grandfather). Lastly, Paulette owns a beauty salon and is a hopeless romantic, so I think the perfect line from the show to add would be “do you know the number one reason behind all bad heart decisions? LOVE!”

Greving: To create a successful Emmett mural, there would need to be a few different things. He’s a total “mama’s boy”, so it’d probably feature a large, central portrait of his mother. Around her would representations of his interests: law, nerdy paraphernalia, and Red Bull. As an ode to Elle, his mom would probably be holding Elle’s chihuahua, Bruiser, whom he’s grudgingly grown to love.

Q. Of anyone in the world, who do you think your character most like to be in quarantine with? What about you?

Barnhouse: Warner loves himself to much to want to spend all his time with someone so he would probably just spend quarantine by himself. But for me, getting through quarantine as easily as I’ve have has been because I’m around those I care about most.

Thornton: The first person she would want to be with be is her dog Rufus. If he doesn’t count, her husband, the UPS Guy Kyle. Otherwise I think she might want to spend time with Jennifer Coolidge, who originated the role in the movie or Orfeh who originated the role on Broadway.

I would want to hang out with the hilarious Lily Tomlin.

Greving: Emmett would probably want to quarantine with some random, historical lawyer that no one else knows, but he idolizes in a dorky way. Personally, I would want to be with with six-time Tony award winner Audra McDonald ... or my golden retriever, Bruno. There is no inbetween.

Q. For people that might or might not be familiar with the "Legally Blonde" movies, what is your pitch for why the musical is a must-see?

Barnhouse: For those who have seen the movie, it combines the story you are already familiar with, and puts it with songs and dance numbers that showcase such a talented group of performers in the Fort Wayne area.

Thornton: For people who are familiar with the movie, you don’t get to learn much about Paulette. In the musical you basically find out anything and everything about Paulette, especially in her first number “Ireland.” The same goes for many other characters.

For people who aren’t familiar with the movie, this musical has so many fun songs and dance numbers! You’re guaranteed to have a great time.

Greving: If you are familiar with the film, this show is packed with the same energy, camp, and iconic moments you will recognize. If you haven’t seen the movie, this show is ridiculously fun. It’s hilarious, features a high energy score, and is full of life to brighten up these unprecedented times. It’ll make you want to laugh out loud, dance, and even tear up.

Q. What do you hope members of the audience are talking about on the car ride home?

Barnhouse: The show is riddled with different comedic lines and moments. So for me, I want the audience to be talking about how funny it is.

Thornton: I hope people are talking about how much fun they had. It’s been really scary and tough in the world within the past couple of months and I am so thrilled to give patrons the opportunity to let go and leave this world for a couple hours.

Greving: I hope audience members will leave filled and talking about the magic of live theater. We are so lucky to be able to mount this production as safely as possible and give such a joyful show to the Fort Wayne community. I hope that on their drive home they will look through their programs and give credit to the wonderful creative team behind this show: from the lighting, to costumes, to the set, props, choreography, and so much more. I hope audiences will discuss these individuals who make the “singing-and-dancing-on-stage” part look easy!

Q. What challenges have you found preparing for this show during the pandemic that are different from your previous theater experiences?

Barnhouse: From the minute we stepped into Sweetwater and before we even auditioned for the role, we had to make sure that we are being as safe as we can be. We wear masks at rehearsals and sanitize our hands and props and social distance whenever we are not performing. Getting used to that environment was challenging at first. Slowly, but surely we have been able to adapt. The cast as a whole is so passionate and dedicated to creating the best show we can possibly give.

Thornton: It’s been challenging transitioning to our new normal, overall. Wearing a mask and singing/dancing at the same time is kind of uncomfortable, but it was pretty easy to get familiar with. There are lots of safety protocols the Civic has set in place for us and I am very appreciative. I missed doing theater, a lot.

Greving: In the end, my job and preparation as a performer is pretty much the same – as far as telling a story, memorizing lines, etc. However, my duties as an individual are much different. Each of us involved with this production are responsible for taking care of ourselves outside of rehearsal so we can safely conduct rehearsals when we are all together. The Civic staff has been adamant about mask wearing, distancing, and sanitizing in efforts to keep everyone safe as possible. Sometimes these precautions can be a challenge in a rehearsal environment, but it is a challenge we are all more than happy to rise to. We want to keep ourselves, the creative team, and audiences as safe as possible to enjoy “Legally Blonde!"

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