Schenectady County

Girls to play role in Proctors show

Michael Burns tried to convince a group of girls to sing along on his chant of “Anything you can do,
Michael Burns of Proctor’s Theatre, right, works on a musical skit from the upcoming production of Legally Blonde, with Ashley Young, 13, left, Deominiqe Harrison, 12, Dija Winters, 17, and Aliyah Johnson, 13, at Girls Inc. on Albany Street in Schen
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Michael Burns of Proctor’s Theatre, right, works on a musical skit from the upcoming production of Legally Blonde, with Ashley Young, 13, left, Deominiqe Harrison, 12, Dija Winters, 17, and Aliyah Johnson, 13, at Girls Inc. on Albany Street in Schen

Michael Burns tried to convince a group of girls to sing along on his chant of “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.”

This proved to be a difficult task as the participants in the Girls Inc. program had a few false starts and do overs. But Burns — the artistic director for the improvisational theater group Mop & Bucket Co. — finally convinced them to focus. “The pressure is on.”

The song is all part of a video that the girls are creating in conjunction with the premiere of “Legally Blonde — The Musical” later this month at Proctors. The musical is based on the movie of the same name where the main character Elle Woods decides to go to Harvard Law School after her boyfriend dumps her because he does not think she is smart.

The video will consist of some short scenes showing girls aspiring to be a doctor, lawyer or manager. They will also pantomime girls breaking out of the “box” that keeps girls from believing they can do anything.

The Mop and Bucket Co. is the artist in residence at Proctors, which is partnering with Girls Inc. on this program.

“We designed a project that would promote girls’ self-esteem and teach them about stereotypes and promote empowerment as well,” said Christine Sheehan, director of education for Proctors. “The film and Broadway show ‘Legally Blonde’ is about breaking stereotypes and proving that you can be all you can be, and those are the same values that Girls Inc. promotes.”

The program was made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Broadway League, the trade association for the industry. Proctors was one of 10 organizations that received grants. This was in turn matched by $5,000 from attorney Gary Lombardi.

The group has been meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays since October. The girls participate in 45-minute workshops two days a week.

Meaghan Nichols, director of site based programs for Girls Inc., said the mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. “This program obviously fits in with it,” she said.

Twelve-year-old Deominiqe Harrison said she likes creating ideas, although that is also the toughest part about the assignment.

Harrison plans to become a forensic scientist. “I like to figure out mysteries; I like science,” she said.

Ashley Young, 13, wants to become a lawyer — just like the character in “Legally Blonde.”

“I like how she went to law school and proved everybody wrong. She was actually pretty smart,” she said.

Amara Banks, 13, said she likes doing the dancing for this project. She enjoys her experience in Girls Inc. “It teaches us how to grow up and do the right thing in life,” she said.

The project will culminate with a dinner and party on the premiere of the musical at Proctors on Nov. 25, where they will get a chance to meet the cast. The musical runs through Nov. 30.

In addition, Sheehan said the program gets to expose more people to Broadway shows.

“The arts aren’t just for the privileged. … We want to make sure we make the arts available to everyone,” she said.

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