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Like, He's 'Legally' Michael Rupert

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Like, there is a new musical on Broadway that's, like, based on a cool movie called LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL. Oh my god!!! Yes, folks, it's true. The story of that loveable sorority sweetheart Elle Woods comes to the stage courtesy of some true musical theatre scholars like Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Jerry (HAIRSPRAY) Mitchell; composer and lyricist Laurence (BATBOY) O'Keefe and Nell (SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL) Benjamin; book writer Heather (FREAKY FRIDAY) Hach and scenic designer David (DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS) Rockwell.

Most recently, the show received 10 Drama Desk nominations including Outstanding Musical!! The cast of theatre alumni include the amazing Tony Award winning actor Michael Rupert, who plays Callahan in the show. Rupert won both a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for his work in the revival of SWEET CHARITY. He created the role of Marvin in MARCH OF THE FALSETTOS and FALSETTOLAND. His other Broadway appearances include The Happy Time, Pippin, and City of Angels. He has made his debut as a composer with 3 GUYS NAKED FROM THE WAIST DOWN, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination, and STRANGE VACATION. He also wrote the score and starred in the musical MAIL at the Pasadena Playhouse, the Kennedy Center, and on Broadway.

Rupert took a break from class recently to talk to me about all things LEGALLY BLONDE…and more.

TJ: Michael, how does it feel to be back on Broadway?

RUPERT: It's great.  Especially being in a show with such an amazing group of actors and getting to work with Jerry Mitchell.  There's nothing better for me than knowing your director really knows what he wants – and Jerry does.

TJ: How are the previews for LEGALLY BLONDE going?

RUPERT: They're actually going quite well.  We're selling tickets and the audiences seem to be enjoying it as much as we are.

TJ: How did you get involved with the show?

RUPERT: I was in Pittsburgh at Point Park University directing RAGTIME and I got a call to fly in to meet with the producers and creative team.  So I did.  I auditioned, flew back to Pittsburgh and the next day Jerry offered me the job.

TJ: Now your character is Callahan?  For those of our readers who haven't seen the movie, tell me about your character in the show?

RUPERT: Callahan is the toughest law professor at Harvard.  He also runs a billion dollar law firm and hires four interns from his class every year.  He's an arrogant bastard who demands the best out of those he hires.

TJ: Had you seen the movie before the project came up?

RUPERT: Absolutely.  Terrific movie.

TJ: What was it that attracted you about LEGALLY BLONDE?

RUPERT: I though Heather's script was great and Larry and Nell's score first-rate…and to get to play an arrogant bastard.

TJ: There seems to be quite a trend of movies being revamped for musical theatre. What's your feeling on this trend?

RUPERT: This is not a new trend.  Broadway musicals have looked to the movies for adaptation for many years.  The fact that people seem to think this something new is simply not correct.  Maybe it's happening more these days, but it's not a new thing.

TJ: Has the show changed much since it's transition to the Broadway stage?

RUPERT: The show we left San Francisco with is very close to what we're doing every night at The Palace.  A couple of medium-sized changes, lot's of tightening and cleaning, but the fact is by the time we left it was working very well in California.  All the work the creative team did before we ever started rehearsal last fall gave us a pretty solid show right for the first day.  And, of course, in San Francisco Jerry was making changes every day – even putting in cuts the day before we closed there.  All that work paid off.

TJ: Now you won a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for your work in the revival of Sweet Charity. Do you remember what you were thinking while they were announcing the winner for your category?

RUPERT: I was sincerely surprised that I won.  The other nominees had much bigger roles than mine and I thought it wasn't going to happen.  But, I'm glad it did.  SWEET CHARITY – based on a movie, by the way. 

TJ: How has Broadway changed in your eyes over the years?

RUPERT: It's definitely more family-friendly – for the most part.  Many musicals getting produced are geared toward the true family audience.  Which is fine as long as we still have great shows like GREY GARDENS and SPRING AWAKENING that are not specifically aimed at that crowd (though I know plenty of families who liked both).

TJ: Now, not only are you an actor, but you are also a composer with 3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down, for which you received a Drama Desk nomination. How did you get into composing?

RUPERT: I just decided to write a musical one day and did.  And worked my ass off to get it produced.  And did. 

TJ: And you are also a director. It seems like you like to do it all. Do you have a preference as far as acting, directing or composing?

RUPERT: I love directing.  I think it's what I like to do best at this point. 

TJ: You are a man of any talents. So are there any other projects coming up that we should look for from Michael Rupert?

RUPERT: I'm currently working on a new musical called STREETS OF with co-writer Matthew Riopelle, which will be premiering at Point Park University in the fall.  Also, I'm doing a benefit with my MARCH OF THE FALSETTOS co-star, Alison Fraser and composer/writer Brian Lowdermilk at the LGBT Center on May 21st and working a solo CD with guitarist David Timmons to be released sometime in the future.

TJ: OK, now I always let our readers know a little more about Michael Rupert  off-stage with a section I call My Favorite Things. So, let's start with your Favorite Song.

RUPERT: At the moment, "A Good Heart" by Maria McKee.

TJ:  And your favorite vacation spot?

RUPERT:  The Bahamas.

TJ: OK. How about your favorite holiday?

RUPERT: Christmas.

TJ: Mine too. And how about your favorite Time of Year?

RUPERT: Winter, especially in New York City.

TJ: Finally, if you weren't in show business, what do you picture yourself doing as a profession.

RUPERT:  Airline pilot.  I'm a licensed pilot.  (Just not licensed enough to be an airline pilot.)

TJ: Wow!! I am impressed!! Thanks for your time, Michael.

So, the show LEGALLY BLONDE is now in previews at the Palace Theatre at 1564 Broadway and again, officially opens on April 29. You can get your tickets at the box office or order by phone at (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000. Or you can visit the website at www.legallyblondethemusical.com. The performance schedule is Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm; Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and Sundays at 7pm. 

So for now, I am going to put my head back in the books and remind you that, like, theatre is my life!  Ciao for now!!


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