This past weekend we experienced a blast from the past on the Davis & Elkins College campus. We were transported back 25 years and deposited into the middle of pop culture amidst lots of pink and “Omigod You Guys” being heard quite frequently…at least from the stage of Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. Legally Blonde the Musical was the spring show produced by the D&E Theatre and Film Department and it did not disappoint.

For those that might not have experienced either the movie or the musical, it is a comedy about Elle Woods, a California sorority girl who is accepted into Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. She struggles with stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal but ultimately defies expectations while staying true to herself.

The production was a significant undertaking for D&E’s Theatre and Film Department. A big and well-done musical drama requires a significant cast of people who possess talent, a strong work ethic, and passion. Fortunately, Davis & Elkins College is up to that challenge. About three dozen students were onstage or behind the scenes supporting the production, along with a vast array of staff, faculty, and volunteers to make the three nights of performances a hit for all in attendance. It was uplifting to see packed houses each evening consisting of both campus and Elkins community attendees.

Amidst our busy lives, it is good to spend an evening whisked away to another place and time. It is enjoyable to attend a performance for the sole purpose of being entertained. It is good to laugh, tap your foot to the rhythmic music, and root for goodness, hard work, and humanity to ultimately triumph over stereotypes, harassment, and privilege.

Watching students showcase their talent, express their individuality, and “Lead the Way” was the highlight for me. As I left the auditorium following the performance, I was a proud president. The arts are central to a strong liberal arts institution. Our Creative Arts Division, which includes both the performing and visual arts, provides students the opportunity to view life in new perspective. Through their art, those students in turn help others do the same. How thankful I am for our strong program that impacts both our campus and the Elkins community.

A few kudos are in order. First, the actors and musicians were spectacular. Special recognition to sophomore Nicole Schumacher who played the lead. The quality of the production was the result of the excellent work of all those students and volunteers both in the front and back of the house. Finally, I am grateful to Professor Lonnie Martin, who along with his colleague, Dr. Aubrey Neuman, are leading and growing our theatre and film program. After this past weekend, the positive direction and momentum is clear.

Educator and author Sydney Gutewirz Clemens has a description of art that I think Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods would appreciate. Clemens writes, “Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” At Davis & Elkins College, we value and celebrate the arts and artists who enhance our lives.

The journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College