This spring, Hayes High School will put on a musical production of “Little Women.” Due to the pandemic, however, the performance will be filmed instead of performed in front of a live audience.
Dr. Dara A. Gillis, musical director at Hayes, said she’s considered “Little Women” in the past, but it never made the final cut until now.
“This is a show I have looked at several times, but it requires a smaller cast than the shows we traditionally perform in the spring,” Gillis said. “The pandemic has caused us to look at our approach to a spring production much differently, and a show with a small cast is exactly what we needed. There will only be 18 actors, eight student crew, and 11 performers in the orchestra for the production.”
Gillis said the story, based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, has been adapted into a musical with contemporary music. She added the story is very appropriate for this year.
“It is a wonderful story about a family finding ways to lean on one another and support each other through challenging times, which are fraught with anxiety, uncertainty and loss,” Gillis said. “The show seems very appropriate for the times we are experiencing.”
She added auditions will be held in person this week and will follow the typical audition process, but students will have to complete a health questionnaire before entering the auditorium.
“Students will then act and sing their prepared audition materials as they normally would,” Gillis said.
The rehearsal process will be different than previous years to increase safety.
“In the past, all cast members were present for all rehearsals,” Gillis said. “While one group of students was doing blocking on the stage, another group would be doing choreography or running lines in a separate room. This year, we have developed a rehearsal calendar that has only those students required for a specific scene attending rehearsal. We do not bring the entire group together until the first week in March.”
Gillis said the stage crew and orchestra pit will keep their usual routine of meeting separately from the cast until the first week in March.
“Although it has required a lot of preplanning, we think this will work best for keeping everyone socially distanced,” she said.
As for the final show, Gillis said the school will film the production and edit it into one definitive performance.
“This is the practice that many theater companies are using right now,” she said. “Some are having audiences in a very limited capacity. However, we felt that filming the production was the best way to share the show with the most people while keeping everyone safe. I am also looking forward to giving the students the experience of truly filming a production. This will be an experience most of them have not had before. It will allow us to do multiple tapings of the show, selecting the best performances for the final cut. I think the outcome will be a spectacular production for our community.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.