Growing up in a traditional European setting, where universities are pretty much all focused around one major, I did not quite understand the point of the liberal arts at first. It took three different majors, three years of convincing my parents that one can indeed study performance and politics at the same time (AND still get a job), and taking part in a musical (yes!) for me to finally grasp the unique concept of a liberal arts education. A pre-med enthusiast at first who then found a true passion in performing arts and writing, I learned from Elle Woods, the lead character of Legally Blonde, that being true to yourself in fact never goes out of style. Elle Woods, much like the exercise queen Brooke Wyndham, whom I played in St. Lawrence's Legally Blonde musical in November 2016, might have been a joke to some. To me, however, she was a true blessing. One that taught me how to make my own world more ‘pink’ and how to “keep it positive” when life gets “serious.”
So, here is my ultimate list of the five things (although there were many more) that Elle Woods and performing in Legally Blonde (aka. the highlight of my time at SLU) taught me!
- A more vibrant performing arts culture exists at St. Lawrence than I thought.
In fact, have you seen all those “triple threats” sing, dance and act their hearts out on stage? How about the stage, sound and lighting crew? Oh, and the musicians who brought the songs “OMG,” “Gay or European,” and “Bend and Snap” to life behind the grand curtain? The talent and the resources are here and Elle Woods made me aware of just how wonderfully talented the SLU community is.
2. It is NEVER too late to make friends on campus (seniors - no excuse)!
Being a senior, I thought that I was done making friends. At least best friends. Or friends I would call in the middle of the night to complain about a class assignment. But I was wrong. Legally Blonde gave me 30 (that’s right!) new friends who have shown me that there is no such a thing as a social barrier between first-year and senior students here. And this just speaks to the openness and the uniqueness of the SLU community.
3. You do not have to major in something to be good at it.
Only about a handful of all students who took part in the production are performance and communication arts (PCA) majors. Students with different majors, experiences and skills united their passions to create the show that proved just how good of a singer a computer science major can be, or how good of an actor a non-actor can become! The best part? The encouraging SLU students who were supportive of this process and who helped everyone thrive.
4. A liberal arts education is all about bringing diverse skill sets to life in a fast-pace, ever-changing world.
We had 30 cast members, 15 songs, 20 choreographies (including a full-on jump-rope routine), 168 costumes and 13 weeks to put it all together. And none of us had Broadway on our resumes. In fact, some cast members had never done theatre before. Our diverse skills and perspectives mimic the liberal arts umbrella. The way we agreed to go about different things, the way we engaged in academic conversations on stage and even the way we read Aristotle, Plato and organic chemistry before getting “Whipped into Shape,” in front of 500 people is all a representation of the true values of a liberal arts education.
5. In order to succeed, you have to do what you love.
And last but not least, Elle Woods showed me that the only way to succeed at something is to do what you are passionate for. This explains all those grades back in the day when I still thought I was going to major in pre-med. I did not mind long rehearsals, booked weekends, piled assignments and sleepless nights because the energy I got from the show pushed me to work just a little harder and perform just a little better.
And with this in mind, I salute Elle Woods and her idealistic world and I thank her for teaching me and showing us all that “being true to yourself never goes out of style.”