Legally Blonde, Life of the Party Opera
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts presents the world premiere of Life Of The Party, a light opera for dark times. Following the huge success of last year's production of Kismet, director Paul Lincoln and the LaGuardia High School Opera Workshop tackle this completely original work, written and composed by Tony Award nominees Laurence O'Keefe (Legally Blonde, Bat Boy) and Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Pirates!). The show plays a strictly limited run, with its last performance today, May 6th at 2:00pm.
Set in 1953 in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Life Of The Party tells the story of a director who, denounced by his wife and star actress, is released after 10 years’ hard labor in Siberia and ordered by Stalin to make a communist movie musical to compete with Singin’ In the Rain, On The Town and the other musical films pouring in from the West.
The film he’s ordered to make -- “The Happy Bandit”, a thinly veiled ode to Stalin himself -- is a suicide mission. But hungry for freedom and a chance for revenge against his wife, he agrees to direct. And production begins, complete with temperamental stars, secret police informers, and a chorus of women from the local insane asylum.
Based on true stories of the brave men and women who labored to make art and music in Stalin's Russia, Life Of The Party is a darkly comic, universal story about love, betrayal and just trying to do your job in an insane time and place.
The cast and orchestra are made up entirely of LaGuardia High School students, who have ambitiously agreed to mount an original opera production while still maintaining the highest academic standards.
LHS’s Opera Workshop Artistic Director is Mary Ann Swerdfeger; Bernice Fleischer is head of the Music Department, and LHS Principal is Kim Bruno.
Nell Benjamin co-wrote the score to Legally Blonde The Musical with Laurence O’Keefe, for which they received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations, and won Olivier Award for Best Musical. Nell’s disturbingly free adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, called Pirates! (Or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’d) ran at the Goodspeed Opera House ,the Paper Mill Playhouse, and the Huntington Theater and will be playing at the MUNY this July. With Larry as composer, Nell wrote lyrics for Sarah, Plain and Tall, originally developed by TheatreworksUSA. Sarah played at Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theater and at Dallas Theater Center in 2009. Nell and Larry were nominated for a 2005 Drama Desk for Best Book of a Musical for Cam Jansen (also developed by Theatreworks USA) and won an L.A. Ovation award for their first collaboration, The Mice. Nell’s work for television includes the last and weirdest season of “Unhappily Ever After”, Animal Planet’s “Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca”, and the new “Electric Company”.