Charlotte middle schoolers take on popular rom-com with anti-bullying message

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Since last summer, students at Northwest School of Arts have been dedicating their time to rehearsing the classic rom-com "Legally Blonde JR."

“When they posted the show, the kids went berserk. It was overwhelming, crying, joy and excitement,” Donald Nagel, school of arts director said.

The musical version of this movie finds Elle Woods chasing her ex-boyfriend to law school in hopes of getting him back. She discovers her true self along the way and learns what she is capable of. 

"This show fits in perfectly with this message about self-esteem, being who you are, act the way you are and rise to the occasion," Nagel said.

Art Director Donald Nagel says the theater department chooses shows from Disney or contemporary modern pieces.

“We try to work picking shows that best showcase the talents of the students,” Nagel said.

This musical is a little racier than most. 

“There are certain parts that are cut out especially from this particular musical, because there are some racier numbers in the full length version,” Sarah Buckner, director of the musical said.

But the contemporary musical plays a bigger role that teaches students about “pro-caring."

“We take a couple days out of the year where we don’t teach normal academics. We do pro-caring days and it’s all about anti-bullying,” Nagel said. Students will move from class to class receiving positive messages. 

The directors believe this musical has a similar message.

“I think the lesson to be learned is not to judge a book by its cover. And recognize the power within yourself and don’t accept what others say about you,” Buckner said.

Buckner says the musical also showcases a feminist anthem.

“When Elle sees her name up on that list and there’s a whole song, she realizes for the first time she’s in control. And she doesn’t need a man or any of that, she’s in control of her destiny," Buckner said.

While the students are perfecting their craft and learning to work together in the musical, they're also learning about accepting one another off stage.