The story is called "Legally Blonde" - there's no gray area in that title.
But before Stevie Woodring was cast as the perky lawyer-to-be Elle Woods in Cresson Lake Playhouse's upcoming production of the musical, director Molly Riva noticed something.
"It's funny, because when she came in, almost all the girls that were narrowed down for the role were brunettes," Riva said. "[Woodring] had to make a little adjustment in her hair color ... but now she IS a blonde."
Stevie Woodring, 22, of Tyrone, stars as Elle Woods in the Cresson Lake Playhouse production of “Legally Blonde.”
CLP's production of "Legally Blonde" will hit the stage Thursday and play through Aug. 11, and Woodring will be front and center.
"At least 90 percent of the show is all her," Riva said. "She hardly ever goes off stage. Her part, it's hard music and you have to have a really strong singer. It's a long run for somebody ... you've gotta have somebody who can do it every night."
Woodring, 22, of Tyrone, thinks she's up for the challenge.
"I'm in every song. I think I have 11 different costume changes," she said. "It's almost more a physical struggle, because you're worried about how you're going to be able to dance this number, sing this song and change into this costume - without looking like you just ran a marathon."
"Legally Blonde" began life as a semi-autobiographical novel by writer Amanda Brown, but came to the world's attention as a hit 2001 film comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a naive, pink-loving, little dog-toting Southern California sorority president who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School after he suddenly dumps her. Studying hard and finding her confidence as a lawyer, Elle helps defend a famous fitness instructor against a murder charge and proves that she's a better law student than her ex will ever be.
The film made more than $140 million worldwide and spawned a pair of less successful sequels, before being brought to the stage in 2007. The show ran for just under 600 performances and was nominated for seven Tony Awards and 10 Drama Desk Awards. A recent version which ran in London's West End was even more successful, running for more than two years and almost 1,000 performances, and winning several Olivier Awards (the British equivalent to the Tony).
Riva fell in love with "Legally Blonde" even before she saw it.
"I first got the music and fell in love with the music," she said. "Then it came through on a [national tour] in Pittsburgh and I loved it. It's one of my favorite shows."
Woodring was already familiar with the show, too, before CLP ever considered producing it - a trip to see it on Broadway was her Tyrone Area High School graduation gift in 2008. Even then, she was attracted to the lead role.
"I loved the character - she's fun, she's funny," she said. "She kind of underestimates herself, just like everyone else does."
It's that character trait that drew Riva to direct the show.
"The concept or the idea is a really important one - don't judge a book by its cover," she said. "There's a quote in the show that says 'Being true to yourself never goes out of style.' And I think that's always a good message."
The message must have resonated among the local acting community, because they turned up in big numbers.
"We had a really large turnout for our auditions," Riva said. "It's always pretty interesting to see who turns out. We had close to 50 people audition. ... Some people I knew, but there was a lot of new people that I had never seen before. In such a small community, it's really cool when we get new people involved."
The cast eventually consisted of nearly 30 people from all across the area - a large number for the CLP accommodations.
"It's without a doubt the largest show that I've ever tried to produce at [CLP]," Riva said. "It's a big show to try to do in the small, small space."
Woodring says everything is working well, despite the size of the cast.
"Rehearsals are fun," she said. "And I think that's key with a show like this. Things revolve around my character, but the ensemble is so important."
Still, it's a challenge to take on such a well-known role, made famous by an actress like Witherspoon and played on Broadway by established actresses.
"I really wanted to walk the fine line between doing justice to the character and not copying what the other girls did," Woodring said. "I really wanted to do like the 'Stevie' Elle Woods."
But is she nervous?
"I would call them healthy nerves," she said. "I use my nerves in a positive way to bring out the best in my performance."
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.