Class Suit: YCIS Beijing Thespians Go Legally Blonde

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A couple of years back, a friend had asked me if I had already watched Legally Blonde. When I said no, she said I was just “out of this world” because it was the talk of the town. Though I didn’t heed her advice then, I managed to watch the movie several months after and realized why the movie was so popular. So after I learned Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS) will stage the musical of this hit flick, I wanted to know how parents and kids would react.

But before attending the show, one must find YCIS Beijing first. A taxi or Didi are the easiest way to get to YCIS Beijing, especially if you’re bringing your kids. Buses or the subway are also good alternatives as well. (See instructions below.) When you arrive at the school’s east gate, make sure you show the booking receipt for your reservation to the guard. The e-receipt is sent to your phone once you complete the booking (see this site and click the time on Saturday Jan 14 when you want to attend and register).

The auditorium is just behind the guard house. Since I arrived quite early, I explored the place and found the nearest bathroom from the east gate is by the reception area, just across the auditorium. I found the bathrooms to be quite clean too. Meanwhile, the school canteen will be closed on Saturday but the student council will be selling snacks.

Now let’s get on to the show!

There were almost 300 audience members present at YCIS Beijing’s adaptation of the popular movie — parents and students alike — coming and cheering for the cast and band. Daniel Pearton, the show director and the head of performing arts, opened the musical by saying it took 5 months for the whole cast to prepare. Whew, when I heard that, I thought the students must’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort into the show — and I must say it paid off!

I’ve been to some musicals before and I had also played some roles at student performances (which I really loathe doing since I’m not a born actor!) so I quite understand how terrifying and nerve-racking it must have been to perform in front of classmates and parents. But the cast, I must say, showed zest and youthfulness that made the musical exciting to watch. Since my only reference for this was the film version, the YCIS Beijing ensemble and band had stellar moments, like the duets of Elle Woods with her leading men Emmett Forrest and Warner Huntington III, as well as Paulette Bonafonte’s fantastic solo, and the trial act, which were all absolutely well done!

Fifteen-year-old Chloe Sandifer-Stech plays the lead role Elle Woods in such a cheerful and natural way that she’d give Reese Witherspoon (the lead actress for the film version) a run for her money. “The script was quite big,” she said, “And mostly the singing, I haven’t really acted and sung to the public before this so it was kind of hard.” Chloe said she has done some theater plays before but getting the lead for Legally Blonde is her biggest role yet. When I asked Chloe if she plans to continue acting, she said she might pursue a field different from the arts. “I do play cello, but I’m interested in going into environmental policy, which I guess is kind of the same with law.”

After the show, I talked to Lianne Yu, the musical director. “This is maybe one of the most difficult musicals we’ve done — so many key changes, a big cast, the band members are all students, except for one, who’s a teacher.” She states that the two upcoming shows will be “different,” and invites the community to watch since the show is free. Pearton, meanwhile, said the show is a cool weekend activity for families. “I think it just showcases the different activities YCIS Beijing has. The show itself tells a positive story and breaks stereotypes … and it’s something for the whole family to enjoy.” And yes, Legally Blonde: The Musical gives that dose of laughter that will surely warm up your chilly winter! The cast and band will return on Saturday (Jan 14) for two shows at 2 PM and 7.30 PM.

How to get to YCIS Beijing:

Bus: Get off at Hongling Jin Gong Yuan (Buses 75, 126, 140, 306, 486, 640, 682) bus stop along Chaoyang North Road. YCIS Beijing is northeast of both stops traveling from the west or the east. For those coming from the west, you’ll need to cross Chaoyang North Road. Your main landmark will be the south gate of Beijing Balizhuang Middle School, which is east of both stops. Take the street on the left, and then walk for 400 meters (around 5 minutes). YCIS Beijing East Gate is on the left side.

Subway: Take Line 6 going east to Lucheng. Alight at Shilipu then take exit D (southwest, and you’ll need to cross the road), then walk westward for 500 meters (around 5 minutes) until you see the south gate of Beijing Balizhuang Middle School. Take the street on the right then walk for 400 meters (around 3 minutes). YCIS Beijing East Gate is on the left side. **Exit A, just parallel to exit D, is closed for some other reason).

Featured image courtesy of YCIS Beijing.

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