Julia Ullrich talks about playing Elle Woods in the stage production of Legally Blonde
ANNALISSE CROSSWELL // CONTRIBUTOR
Julia Ullrich was already a professional before she even knew it. Her parents put her into acting at a young age, but like any child Ullrich had starkly different priorities. “I just want to play with my friends,” she recalled saying, “I don’t want to have to learn lines.” Though she wound up dropping out of acting, she ultimately found her way back to the stage in high school and this time, she fell in love with the craft. Eventually, Ullrich moved to Capilano University, where she completed the intensive three-year musical theatre program in 2013, before supplementing her education and skills with further acting studies at UBC.
Starting Feb. 2, Ullrich will lead Align Entertainment’s stage production of the popular film Legally Blonde, playing the role of the iconic Elle Woods. Ahead of the show’s launch, the Capilano Courier caught up with Ullrich to talk about landing the role and what it’s playing such a memorable character.
What led you to pursue this role?
I went to the auditions and honestly, I didn’t think that I was really well suited for the part. So, I went and I thought, ‘Oh it’s such a fun show maybe I’ll be one of the friends or maybe I’ll be Vivan’. I got a first call back and I said, ‘Sure. Okay. Going to go for it’, and it went really well and I started to feel invested. It’s a lot different than I think what people might be expecting.
Because of the film’s massive success, do you feel it was difficult to translate the film to the stage?
Actually no. I think the writers and the music writers did a really awesome job of making it into a musical. Yeah, it’s not exactly the same as the film, but I think the story works really well as a musical. It’s larger than life, it’s so pink there’s lots of moments that really lend themselves well to singing and dancing.
What has working with the cast and crew been like?
It’s really fun. Everybody there is so nice. It’s a lot of women in a room there’s not very many guys in the show. I had never worked with this company before and I had heard that working with them was a lot like working with a family and you feel really connected to everybody and I definitely get that now. They’re so kind and it feels like a team for sure.
Has the role taught you anything new about acting that you may not have thought it would? In the film Elle Woods has a large personality, so how did you match that on the stage?
I guess maybe to trust my gut a little bit more. Sometimes I struggle with making big choices and with this character I really need to go for it and make big choices. So, I guess I’m just learning to trust myself a little bit more and not worry so much, just do what needs to be done to do a service to the script.
The original film that this production evolved from is so iconic, and stands as comedy-filled, women-empowerment resource. How have you personally connected to the character and her scenario of being undermined as a woman? How do you connect to the film on a basis of feminism?
She goes through a journey of feeling like she can have everything she wants and then learning that you actually have to work for some things, but she does, she puts her mind to it and she gets what she wants. I think that that’s a good message for women in general, or girls perhaps, that people might tell you that you can’t do something, but if that’s what you really want, you can.
Legally Blonde will be on stage at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby from Feb. 2 to Feb. 17. Tickets range from $27 to $39 and are available at Align Entertainment’s website.