Pictured (L to R) are Courtney Blanc and Kira Lace Hawkins. Photos provided.
Pictured (L to R) are Courtney Blanc and Kira Lace Hawkins. Photos provided.
“Legally Blonde” has themes of positive relationships, finding one’s self, seeing people beyond their stereotype and female empowerment, the two women playing the leads in the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts production of the musical pointed out in an interview Tuesday.

Kira Lace Hawkins is returning to the role of Paulette, having played Paulette the first time Wagon Wheel put on the musical a decade ago. Relative Wagon Wheel newcomer Courtney Blanc is playing Elle Woods.

Elle grew up in Malibu, Calif., and went to UCLA. “She is dating this guy and thinks that he’s the one and they’re going to be very happy together and have a great life. It goes differently than that. He breaks up with her and she decides that’s not enough and follows him to Harvard Law School to try to win him back,” Blanc said in providing a synopsis for the show.

In the process of trying to win him back and getting into Harvard, Elle finds her way. “She finds out a lot about herself and that’s her journey through the end of Act I,” Blanc said.

In Act II, she meets her best friends Emmett and Paulette.

“She just kind of finds out who she actually is without Warner and who she is as a person and what she wants to be,” Blanc said.

Paulette is a beautician and Elle comes to her salon in a moment of distress.

“Paulette’s character encourages Elle to keep going and keep going after the guy, but also just keep believing in herself, and then actually becomes her real friend,” Hawkins said. “Something interesting about Paulette – she was in a loveless relationship and Elle really helps Paulette. Elle’s first taste of a legal victory, or what law can do for an underdog, that Paulette is, Paulette wants her dog back but her former partner has kept her dog from her, so Elle uses legal jargon to say, ‘Hey, no, we get to divide this property equally because you lived together for 10 years so we’re taking the dog.’”

She said that’s Elle’s glimpse into how the law can help people.

“I think that speaks to Elle’s character, too. She finds that passion because she realizes, ‘Oh my gosh, I can help people,’” Hawkins said.

Blanc said Paulette’s and Elle’s relationship is “so sweet” and Paulette awakens the fighter for the underdog in Elle.

“Elle loves everyone in her life, more than she can probably even imagine. That’s my favorite part about the characters: She isn’t dumb and she isn’t ditsy, she is so intelligent and she cares about everyone that she comes into contact with. I think she just figures out that that is what she wants to lead with and she wants to fight for other people,” Blanc said.

Hawkins added, “I think it speaks to a larger theme in the musical, too, where we see people trying to tear each other down as kind of the typical cutthroat adventure in law school, that’s the way it is. In musical theater, that’s the way it is – cutthroat, tear each other down. But, this musical shows what’s possible when we decide to build each other up and support each other.”

Another big theme that Hawkins pointed out was, “This musical is very filled with stereotypes, so these little pockets that we think we’re supposed to fit into and the possibilities of breaking out against them.”

Blanc said she loves how the show is so comedic but thoughtful, and it’s a “breath of fresh air” with how much women empowerment is in the musical.

“It’s just so fun, because usually it’s all about a love story, and while a love story is tied into this musical, it’s really about women building up women and people building up other people, which is refreshing. It’s really nice” Blanc stated.  

Blanc said that the character of Elle resonates with her because she, too, is from the West Coast.

Blanc is originally from California and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater. Her first show at the Wagon Wheel was the 2021 holiday show “Elf.” Along with “Legally Blonde,” she appeared in “Cinderella” and will appear in “Brigadoon” and “The Addams Family” this summer.

“As I was working on this character, this is so ridiculous, but UCLA was my dream school to go to college, so the fact that that is where she went is a sweet nod to playing the role. I think there’s a lot that goes into the stereotypes of being built from a California girl and being blonde and all those things. And it did help influence the character just because the West Coast girl is a very specific thing. So, more than anything, it was just fun to have that in my pocket as a ‘I know what that’s like,’ and then build it from there,” Blanc said.

Hawkins said revisiting the role of Paulette has been a lot of fun.

“It’s always been one that I’ve held close to my heart. Actually, it’s kind of a favorite I’ve listed when people ask inevitably, so it’s like a huge honor to get to try her on again and see if things hit a little differently. And, of course, except for Mike Yocum, the entire cast is new. Even Jen Dow is playing a different role than last time,” Hawkins said. “So it’s just great to interact with different people and see what they bring to the table, too.”

She said it’s been so much fun to have Blanc in the role.

“We got to meet each other in ‘Elf’ last Christmas and I was just so impressed with her person,” Hawkins said.

Blanc said she was so excited to play Elle and Paulette with Hawkins as a duo because she really connects with her.

“I think that’s really true and I think it also speaks to a real similarity between Courtney and Elle. Courtney has an innate ability to bring out the best in other people and to appreciate everyone she comes into contact with, so it’s been really fun to revisit this role with her, specifically, and then it’s just fun,” Hawkins said.

“Legally Blonde” is at the Wagon Wheel from Thursday, June 16 to Saturday, June 25. Sponsored by Alderfer Bergen and Toyota of Warsaw, tickets are available through the box office or online at wagonwheelcenter.org.