A special ovation for 'Legally Blonde' actor at Van Wezel
Lea Sevola will get a chance to spend holidays home with her family, and then she'll get right back on the stage for the touring production of "Legally Blonde."
| 5:00 a.m. December 26, 2022
Arts + Culture
Lea Sevola will spend the holidays right here in Sarasota.
And then she’ll go right back to living her dreams on stage — also in Sarasota.
Sevola, who plays Vivienne Kensington in the touring production of the Broadway musical “Legally Blonde,” will be on stage at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Jan. 4 and 5.
And if it sounds like she’s getting a special ovation, there’s a reason for that. Her parents live in Sarasota, and they’re bringing their own cheering section.
“My parents are coming to the first performance with like 50 of their friends,” says Sevola during a break of the touring production.
“So I feel very supported, very loved. They have a wonderful community of friends where they live, and they're so supportive of me.”
Sevola says her sister will also be in attendance at the Van Wezel, which makes it mean a little more than the average performance.
Sevola, who starred in the Urbanite Theatre’s production of “Athena” earlier this year, says that her "Legally Blonde" role doesn’t necessarily get all the laughs.
“Vivienne is the all black in a room of pink,” she says of her character, who plays a foil to the heroine Elle Woods. “She starts out very severe and rigid because she knows what she wants. And Elle is getting in her way.
"But by the end, she has a nice bit of an arc and a little bit of growth and ends up being really supportive of Elle. And they end up as allies.”
Sevola says the tour has wound its way through 50 shows already, and by the time it concludes in May, she will have performed in 100 shows and 85 cities.
The hardest part of a national tour, she says, is moving from venue to venue and not knowing the little things like what the backstage looks like and whether all the set pieces will fit. But night after night, the show must go on no matter what adjustments have to be made to the final product.
Interestingly, as they move from city to city, the young actors are part of a finishing school of sorts. They’re interacting with each other, young professionals who are each getting their first big break, and with seasoned actors who have played on these tours before. Sevola says that Chris Carsten, who plays Professor Callahan, is a veteran touring actor of 25 years and that he’s been really kind and warm to most of his younger peers.
“He has been a mentor and someone I absolutely look up to because he does such great work every night,” she says. “There's a nice blend of of new people and people who are veterans.”
The cool part about a long tour, she says, is that several of her peers will have their own hometown shows at some point during the season’s worth of performances. At some point, they'll all get a special ovation.
“Those are the most fun because you can feel there are people who are extra supportive,” she says. "But I have been so pleasantly surprised — people are so excited to see theater no matter where we are. Our audiences have been so packed, so supportive, so loud. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Sevola says she hasn’t thought much about what’s next because the tour winds all the way through May, but she’s been so excited to perform on stages in front of audiences that seat thousands of people.
Every night, she remembers how lucky she is to do what she loves.
“Every once in a while, we'll get people coming to the stage door and they want us to sign our programs,” she says. “I remember doing that when I was a kid. These are the people I looked up to, and now I'm that person for other people. That's the very meaningful to me."