Broadway Star and Conservatory Alumnus Returns for Opening Night

Apr. 25, 2013

Broadway Star and Conservatory Alumnus Returns for Opening Night

"mad props and snaps " to all my Webster Conservatory animals for a # FULLOUT legally Blonde! Lara Teeter knows what he is doing!

ST. LOUIS, APRIL 25, 2013 - With that tweet, Webster Conservatory alumnus Jerry Mitchell gave the cast and crew of “Legally Blonde” (as well as Conservatory Associate Professor Lara Teeter) an opening-night dream come true: a rave review from the award-winning director and choreographer of the same show on Broadway. “Legally Blonde” was Mitchell's Broadway debut as a director; the show won an Olivier Award for Best Musical and Tony and Drama Desk nominations for choreography. The Conservatory's production of “Legally Blonde” features much of Mitchell's original choreography from the Broadway show. The show opened on the Webster Groves campus Wednesday night.

A few hours earlier, Mitchell, who attended Webster in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2005, visited a class of Musical Theatre seniors to offer some performance and audition tips and to answer their questions about careers on Broadway. Each of the 11 students, most of whom will relocate to New York City after graduation, performed 16 bars of a song of their choice, with selections ranging from the Village People's classic, “Macho Man,” to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.

“Sixteen bars will be your life,” Mitchell told the students. “Your job will be 365 auditions a year; that will never go away. It's your chance to make this first impression. It should end with what is your high note and how best you can deliver it.”

Mitchell's basic advice for the Broadway-bound students? “See everything, do everything, and get involved. Continue to learn, because experience will only make you better,” he said. “One of the great things about Webster is that you learn about a sense of community among everyone involved (in a show). You know what it means to become part of a network of people who will strengthen you and help you succeed.”

Next month, Mitchell will receive a most prestigious award – the "Mr. Abbott" Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre. The award is conferred by the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographer's Foundation.

In announcing the award, the foundation wrote, “Jerry is truly honored to be receiving this award, an award that carries special meaning because it is from his peer professional directors and choreographers from around the country.  We give this award only every two years.  Jerry joins a prestigious list of directors and choreographers including Mike Nichols, Michael Bennett, Agnes DeMille, Susan Stroman, Bob Fosse, and most recently, George C. Wolfe. Jerry has had an outstanding crossover career as choreographer and director. From his award-winning Best Revival of ‘La Cage aux Folles,' to the charming pop culture hits ‘Legally Blonde,'Hairspray'and ‘The Full Monty,' Jerry has made an indelible mark on Broadway's history."

The Abbott award is not Mitchell's first prestigious honor. He previously was awarded Tony, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for his choreography in “La Cage Aux Folles” in 2005, and also earned a TRU Humanitarian Award in 2012 for creating the non-profit “Broad Bares” burlesque show, which raises awareness and money for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS project. He was nominated for two Drama Desk awards in 2007 for his work on “Legally Blonde” and nominated for an Astaire Award in 2011 for his choreography in “Catch Me if you Can.”

Currently, Mitchell helms the new Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein musical “Kinky Boots.”