The Omaha Community Playhouse will soon be filled with court orders, investigations and, most of all, plenty of pink during its upcoming presentation of “Legally Blonde” the musical opening Sept. 14.
Based on the 2001 hit movie of the same name, “Legally Blonde” follows the beautiful blonde Elle Woods as she leaves her California campus life for Harvard Law School and tells a self-empowering tale complete with laughs and song.
Playing Elle is Papillion native and Papillion-La Vista High School graduate Leanne Hill Carlson.
“This is truly a role of a lifetime for me,” Carlson said.
Carlson graduated from PLHS in 1998 and — despite getting her master’s degree as a physician’s assistant from the University of Nebraska Medical Center — has performed two to three performances each year since moving on from high school.
She credited then-Monarch drama instructor Jeff Nienhauser for helping her fall in love with theater.
“He totally opened my eyes to theater,” she said. “If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be me.”
Nienhauser now is the drama instructor of Papillion-La Vista South High School.
Some of her performances within the area include productions by the Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre, playing roles in both “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific.” She also received a Barbara Ford award for best supporting actress for her role as Stella in the OCP production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
She said the role of Elle is a role of a lifetime because she relates to the character, stating she has a very similar can-do, optimistic personality.
“I also have an affinity to shop,” she joked.
She said at the time when the movie version was released, the girl-power comedy was an instant favorite among her friends. When she would later hear of the musical production of the film, she had hoped she would have the opportunity at the role.
“I started preparing the moment I found out,” she said of the upcoming OCP show.
She said the greatest challenge of the role is the amount of costume changes and appearances, stating it is the most physically demanding role she has ever taken.
“I have like five-seconds to change clothes, sometimes on stage!” she said.
She also credits her partner on stage, a young Papillion breed named Remy, who plays Elle’s purse-pooch Bruiser.
“I think this is Remy’s first show,” she said. “He is just hilarious.”
While she no longer lives in Papillion, Carlson still credits it as her starting place and hopes her local fans will come out to enjoy the show.
“I think Papillion really did give me my start,” she said.
The show will run from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14 with shows on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets are available at the OCP Box Office by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at omahaplayhouse.org or ticketomaha.com. Single tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for students. Group tickets are $29 for adults and $18 for students.
Tickets will be sold on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. for $10 for that evening’s show in person at the box office, taking cash or check only. Those will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.