Thursday, January 24, 2019

Legally Confident: A Conversation with LEGALLY BLONDE's Maris McCulley

Maris McCulley
Photo by Clint Tuccio
courtesy of the National Tour of Legally Blonde The Musical
by Julia Bashaw

In a world full of stereotypes, Legally Blonde is the perfect example of a show that breaks a number of stereotypes wide open. The Orpheum Theater, located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, is showcasing the national tour of Legally Blonde: The Musical January 25th-27th. The lead character Elle Woods is being portrayed by Maris McCulley, a former graduate from ASU’s Music Theatre Program who gets to come home and reprise this role.

“I first played Elle in Arizona about eight years ago now,” Maris said. “It feels really really good, bringing the show home where I first did it. I would definitely say it's changed a lot since then just because I’ve grown and matured as a person. I am eight years older than I was then, I was fresh out of college! I feel like this time around for me, she’s a lot more grounded. She was always fun and bubbly and positive and she still is, but underneath that for me is my journey of moving to New York and pursuing my dream there. It does have a little more depth because I’ve been through a little bit more.”

Most people know the character Elle Woods from the movie adaptation where Reese Witherspoon played the beloved college co-ed. It was a box office smash and an empowering movie reminding women that no matter their looks, they can do anything they set their mind to.

“There is a lot to live up to,” Maris stated. “Between Reese originating the part in the movie and then Laura Bell Bundy who’s such a huge Broadway star playing her in New York, I do want to pay homage to them in a way, live up to their standards definitely! But I also want to make the part my own and it’s been a really fun process trying to figure out how to do that.”

The character Elle, in the beginning, is seen as an airhead blonde California girl who isn't serious. She faces these preconceived notions head on in the show and proves everyone wrong.

“At the heart of it, the show is about girl power,” explained Maris. “And beyond that, it’s about looking under those stereotypes that we all fit into. In the show, we look underneath those and beyond to discover who the people are behind those stereotypes. Elle finds that for herself and she also does that with the help of some friends.”

Maris, cast, and crew are so excited to bring this show on the road to Phoenix. Maris loves being able to take this emotional journey with Elle every performance and share it with the public.

“I hope that audiences feel empowered to be who they are and not to be afraid of that,” Maris declared. “To look beyond those stereotypes, to not deny who they are. And also know that the person that you're talking to or whoever you encounter in your life they might seem like a stereotype for you, but there is always something underneath that, driving them and their story and passions. There is always something you can connect to with another person.”

CLICK HERE for more information on Legally Blonde the Musical at the Orpheum Theatre, playing January 25-27

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