If blondes really do have more fun, then Tyra Short must be having a blast. Short, an 18-year-old graduate of Knott County Central High School, is the lead actress in Jenny Wiley Theatre’s Footlights Camp production of Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical. A fabulously fun international award-winning musical based on the adored movie, Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical, follows the transformation of spunky law student (and blonde) Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal in pursuit of her dreams. Short is quick to point out that this show is not only fun, but it also has a valuable message. “The message is to always believe in yourself and never give up, and to chase your dreams, even if that means going all the way across the country,” says Short, who is from Pine Top, in Knott County. Short states she first began performing with Jenny Wiley Theatre in the fourth grade.
Short, along with 30 other Eastern Kentucky youth at Footlights camp, is in the midst of rehearsing for the upcoming production. Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical will be showing on August 6 at 6 p.m., and August 7 and 8 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Pikeville. While Legally Blonde the movie was rated PG-13, Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical is G-rated, does not have any objectionable content and is appropriate even for young children. The show will be one hour in length with no intermission and is the perfect show for families.
It will be inspiring for area children to get to see other young people onstage, and that is one of the main goals of the Footlights program. “Footlights is the training camp of Jenny Wiley Theatre. It’s for kids, and as much as possible, by kids,” explains Kim Willard, who runs the Footlights program as Director of Education for Jenny Wiley Theatre. The current camp consists of 31 children in seventh through 12th grades. The kids in camp have a wide range of experience in theatre; some are complete beginners while others have performed extensively. Willard states that campers have come from “all over eastern Kentucky and beyond,” including Knott County, Letcher County, Floyd County, Pike County, and even Ohio.
Campers are learning the show and theatre skills over a brief period—only 2 weeks! “It’s a compacted schedule,” says Willard. “They are learning theatre skills on their feet. We’re not just talking about it—we’re doing it!” During the first week of camp, campers learn theatre skills by rehearsing the show from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. During the second week, they do technical rehearsals with sound effects and lighting, and then the actual performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
These young actors’ hard work is well rewarded, not only by entertaining and enriching the community with their performance, but also by lessons that extend beyond the stage. “The theatre skills they learn like being able to be in front of others and keep tons of details straight, serve you in any walk of life. Also they make friendships that last and last,” explains Willard, who is also a professional singer and voice teacher. Camper and lead actress Tyra Short agrees, stating that the camp has taught her, “Hard work pays off and practice make perfect!” Short will continue to use her skills as a performer this fall, when she will attend Belmont University in Nashville as a commercial voice major.
Tickets are now available for Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Pikeville. Tickets are also available for the adult professional productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Shrek: The Musical at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg. For tickets, call 877-CALL-JWT or visit jwtheatre.com. You can also find Jenny Wiley Theatre on Facebook and Twitter (@JWTdrama).