Former Miss Oregon to Star in “Legally Blonde The Musical”

Elle Woods is a “lifelong dream role” for Sophia Takla.

Sophia Takla, former Miss Oregon, stars in "Legally Blonde the Musical." (Believe Photography /Stumptown Stages)

If it’s been a couple decades since you’ve thought about the 2001 film Legally Blonde, let’s refresh: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) plays a fashion-loving sorority girl who attends Harvard Law School to win back an ex-boyfriend. In the process, she thrives in law school and challenges patriarchal ideas about what a smart, successful woman looks like. Hint: She can be blond and wear pink. Feeling caught up?

Ready to “bend and snap,” the iconic flirty maneuver that Elle teaches her manicurist (Jennifer Coolidge)? Stumptown Stages presents Legally Blonde the Musical April 26-May 19 at Winningstad Theatre. Cast in the starring role is 2022′s Miss Oregon herself, Jesuit High School alumna Sophia Takla.

Takla, 23, says she grew up watching Legally Blonde as her comfort movie, so playing Elle Woods is a “lifelong dream role.” “She resonates with me personally—that femininity and intelligence and being a high achiever are not mutually exclusive,” Takla says.

A self-described pageant girl, Takla appreciates the way Legally Blonde The Musical shines a spotlight on the way women can be underestimated. In her case, she placed in the top 10 in the Miss America pageant but she also attends New York University where she’s studying for her master’s in journalism while also serving as program manager for the nonprofit organization Chelsea’s Closet, which provides dress-up clothes and play for children in the hospital.

“I feel similar to Elle in that you can put someone in a box but in reality, that has nothing to do with who they are and what they are capable of achieving,” Takla says. “We’ve got Barbie and all these shows teaching us again that it’s OK to be feminine in your own way that’s not any less powerful. I love Elle for that reason.”

The musical premiered in 2007 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, 10 Drama Desk Awards and five Laurence Olivier Awards. Takla is no stranger to the stages of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts.

As a teen, she starred in an Oregon Children’s Theatre production of Ella Enchanted at the Newmark Theatre. Her performance won her a Drammy Award for Best Young Performer. For her talent in the Miss America competition, Takla performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” made famous by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.

Other pageant tidbits: Yes, she gets to keep the crown. It lives in a glass display case in her office. No, she didn’t get a spot on Jesuit’s Rose Festival Court her senior year because she was already committed to the school musical that spring and didn’t have time for both. (Her mom is a Royal Rosarian, though).

The one thing she thinks people should know about Miss America? “The level of political and social awareness it requires,” she says. “The interview portion is grueling and you can be asked about anything.”

The judges asked her for a controversial opinion that most Americans wouldn’t agree with. Takla revealed that she is politically moderate and backed it up with her views on gun control. “It’s a good example of how much is expected from these candidates,” she says. “It’s easy to say ‘pageant girl’ and think they’re not educated.” Elle Woods could surely relate.

Legally Blonde The Musical, Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway. 800-915-4698, 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, April 26-May 19. $31.75-$60.75.

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