The Hayes High School Thespians’ upcoming production of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” will stream on demand March 26-27.
The format of the show was changed this year because of the pandemic, but Director Dara Gillis said she wanted to make sure the students were able to perform a musical this year after last year’s production of “Chicago” was cancelled a week before opening night.
Gillis said in January that students would wear masks during rehearsal and there would be fewer students rehearsing together at a time in order to keep everyone safe.
Junior Rachel White, who plays the lead role of Jo March, said she’s excited to be on stage again.
“I am most excited about performing again, especially with this incredible cast and crew alongside me,” White said. “This year has been anything but normal, and so a chance to be onstage again is absolutely amazing. All of the people within this cast are so dedicated and passionate to the show, and I look forward to every rehearsal.”
White said the rehearsal process has “definitely been different” this year, but the family dynamic of the cast has endured through the pandemic.
“Unlike every year previous, the whole cast is not at every rehearsal in order to reduce the chance of spreading sickness,” White said. “This has certainly caused rehearsals to feel a little more lonely, but now that we’re in the final stages of the show, we’re definitely still feeling like a unified family.”
White said she’s enjoyed learning more about her character and seeing everyone grow into their roles.
“My favorite part of this show was watching the character development that all of us actors have experienced,” White said. “Personally, it took me a little bit of time to discover Jo’s character, but performing within her shoes now is thrilling to say the least. Watching all of my extremely talented fellow actors step into the lives of their characters as well has been nothing short of astonishing. I absolutely cannot wait for the show premiere.”
Meredith Keller, a senior playing March family matriarch Marmee in the show, said the show may be based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, but it still brings a value lesson to the audience.
“I am most excited about the message the story ‘Little Women’ brings to the stage,” Keller said. “It is a story of hope, love, feminism, tragedy and family. It is a story about a family coming together in a time of despair. I think with the time we are in, we all have learned the importance of family … If I had to pick a certain song from the show that I really love, it would be singing ‘Days of Plenty’ to Jo. I enjoy singing this song as it bring a message to keep going even when life brings you down.”
Keller said the changes in the rehearsal process mean students and staff have less time than usual to prepare the show, but she’s looking forward to performing with the cast.
“My favorite part of this show has honestly been working with such an amazing cast,” Keller said. “This year, due to COVID, we have a small cast and because of that, we all have grown very close. I have never, in all my years of drama, had such a caring, welcoming, and loving cast. You can definitely see this family-like chemistry on stage!”
Rena Ouyang, a senior, plays Aunt March in the musical.
“I am honestly just excited to even be doing a show this year,” Ouyang said. “I completely did not expect it, and I’m just grateful we can still perform while also being safe.”
Ouyang said the smaller rehearsals mean students are only showing up on days where scenes they are in are being rehearsed. She added the best part of the process has been doing rehearsals with the whole cast, crew and pit orchestra.
“It makes the show seem more normal, even though we are definitely not living in normal times,” Ouyang said. “Everyone has been really dedicated and putting their all into this show. I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
There is a charge to stream the show. To rent the performance, visit showtix4u.com/events/hayesthespians or by calling the box office at 740-833-1010.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.