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Lawful good

The lines are memorized and the costumes are ready, but for 27 teens in the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts theater camp who are performing "Legally Blonde, the Musical" this weekend, the focus is developing and fostering their love of theater.

"You get to do crazy stuff, and it's for a purpose," actor Grace Thieme said. "Like, 'Here, scream as loud as you can.' OK!"

Thieme plays lead character Elle Woods in the play based on the 2001 film, starring Reese Witherspoon, about a California sorority girl who goes to Harvard Law School.

Over the past five weeks, the nonprofit organization paired teens with varying experience levels with professionals, such as co-director Don Meeker of the Rogue Valley Harmonizers, his wife and co-director Patsy Meeker, who was director of the Southern Oregon Performing Arts Center, assistant choreographer Liisa Ivary of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and assistant acting coach David Salsa of OSF.

"It's the first major role that I've had, so it's been sort of overwhelming," Thieme said. "It's the same thing, memorizing lines and memorizing choreography. You just have to work for longer."

Beyond the song and dance numbers, artistic director Jeff Tabler said, the students grow as actors and as people.

"They're learning how to speak to each other. They're learning how to improvise," said Tabler. "It's the same thing as sports; we work in a team."

"It's really helped me with social skills because I used to be really quiet and shy," said Christopher Vincent, who plays Emmet Forest, Elle's love interest at the end of the play. The production is Vincent's second with OCPA.

Actor Seth Sanders, who plays Elle's self-involved boyfriend, Warner, said he learned to see from different perspectives through his experience with OCPA.

"Like with Warner, he's a pompous jerk, but he's also living up to his parents' expectations."

For actors Chistina Dewar, who has performed in seven OCPA productions, and Justin Burrough, who has performed in 11, the upcoming production — their last — will be bittersweet.

"It's sad to think about, so I try not to," Burrough said. "A lot of these people are my family, they're not just friends."

Dewar, who plays Elle's brash hairstylist, Paulette, will attend Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and is looking forward to the next stage.

"I really enjoy the family here and I don't want to do anything else with my free time," Dewar said.

Reach news assistant Nick Morgan at nmorgan@mailtribune.com.

Theater campers from the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts rehearse a scene for their production of 'Legally Blonde, the Musical' at Central High School’s Auditorium Monday. - Jamie Lusch