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June 7, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Mention Elle Woods, and many people picture the bubbly yet fearless blonde who strives to become a lawyer. Trade out Harvard Law for the Broadway stage, and you’ve got Erica Ranay Rush, 20, a Stephens College graduate who is making her way to the bright lights in New York. Her first stop on the road to stardom is playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical in Jefferson City.
Rush has danced since she was 2 years old, and at 13 she took her first trip to Broadway. After watching the breathtaking show Beauty and the Beast, her dream came into focus. She knew one day she wanted to act on Broadway, a dream she continues to pursue.
She graduated from Stephens this May with a bachelor’s degree in theater. During her time there, she performed in shows, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Combine that with her performing arts high school education, and Rush says she feels more than prepared for Broadway’s big stage.
Do you enjoy playing Elle?
I love playing Elle Woods because ever since the movies came out, I fell in love with her. Being a lawyer was always on my little list of things I wanted to do. She’s such a nice, caring person, she’s so fun to be around and she perseveres over everybody. And the fact you always feel like there are those certain roles that you were born to play, and this is definitely one of those roles for me.
Why did you want formal training before going to Broadway?
If I hadn’t gone to Stephens, I would not have survived, honestly. I don’t see how people do it without formal training. Nowadays, even in dance companies, they want people with degrees; they want people to know what they’re doing. I know where to find auditions. I know how to go about getting an audition, who to talk to and things like that.
What did you enjoy about Stephens?
Because we get to do 10 shows a year, there were a lot of opportunities presented to us. We were performing monologues with each other, supporting each other. We also had a lot of community support. The main reason I chose to go to Stephens was because it was a small private school. Teachers knew my name. They’ve all helped us find people to talk to in different cities and jobs to choose from. They’ve been there for us, and they’re going to continue to be there for us.
What role is at the top of your bucket list?
I would honestly love to play Elle Woods on Broadway if they ever did a revival of it. Another one I would really love to play is Cassie in A Chorus Line when I’m older. It’s such a juicy role. She has that fabulous dance number in the middle of it. There is so much to her, and you don’t even find out about it until almost the end of the show.
What’s the plan once you get to New York?
If I don’t already have a job, find one. And then I just audition, audition, audition. Anything I can do to get my name out there and get on Broadway because that is the ultimate goal.
That’s the goal for a lot of people. How do you feel you stack up?
It is a lot of people’s goals, but not many people follow through with it all the way. A lot of people give up; whereas, I’m so persistent when it comes to things that I want. My boyfriend always tells me, “You always get what you want.”
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Don’t give up. Because you try and try and try, and then nothing will happen, but then there’s that one day that something just comes up, and it could be the thing that changes your life forever.