Tickets are now available for the upcoming Hayes High School production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which is the first winter production the school has done in years.
Director Dr. Dara Gillis said the school decided to have three theater productions, including a winter play, instead of the usual two to make up for the productions that were cancelled due to the pandemic.
“Our graduating seniors were ‘cheated’ out of a show in their sophomore year due to the pandemic,” Gillis said. “We wanted to offer those students something to try to appease the hurt they felt at the cancellation of ‘Chicago.’ Like many fine arts programs, the challenges of the last two years have caused many students to choose other activities besides theater. In all honesty, theater online is not very much fun. This show is an effort to draw more young people to the theater, both as audience members who may later decide to give theater a try, and also as actors who have not been able to have real theater experiences in the pandemic.”
The 11-person cast will perform a 30-minute staging of the show at 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 11. After the show, there will be some holiday songs performed by the cast and a carol singalong. Tickets are available online at https://www.onthestage.tickets/delaware-hayes-thespians or can be purchased at the door for an additional cost.
Gillis said she picked the show because of its popularity.
“We decided on this show because it is well-known, short, and a whole lot of fun,” she said. “People can expect a joyful, fun-filled production for theater fans of all ages. Little children will love it because the characters are cute and funny. Adults will love it for the same reasons, but also because it is almost an exact duplicate of the television show so many of us watched during the holidays as children.”
Senior Audrey Young, who plays Violet in the show, said she’s happy about the smaller cast size because it meant they got to all rehearse together instead of doing split rehearsals.
“It’s been super fun to play really little kids,” Young said. “This is so different from what we’ve done in the past. It’s more of a family show so a ton of people can come see it.”
Young added she’s thrilled to be able to do a winter play during her senior year.
“It’s keeping me busy,” she said. “I get to keep doing what I love.”
Junior Ethan Terry, who plays Schroeder, said he’s “loved” being in the show so far.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Terry said. “The cast members are so welcoming. It’s like a little family after school. … I love seeing these characters come to life that I grew up watching.”
Senior Kaya Ferrell, who plays Frieda, said playing children has been a change of pace compared to previous shows, which were more dramatic.
“I’ve enjoyed being really silly,” Ferrell said. “Lately, you haven’t been able to act like a kid, so just being able to be goofy has been really fun.”
Ferrell said she’s also enjoyed playing a part in such a famous story.
“Watching the movie and coming here and doing it word-for-word has been really cool,” she said.
Senior Carmen Cockerham, who plays Patty, said rehearsals have been “the most fun” she’s had in a show at Hayes.
“I’ve really been enjoying the energy of the show,” Cockerham said. “We’ve done a lot of serious shows. … It’s fun to get to play someone fun.”
Cockerham said it’s been “really nice” to have a show with a small cast.
“We’re all more personable, and we get to spend time with each other,” she said.
The iconic role of Lucy is played by senior Rachel White, who said she was nervous to step into such famous shoes.
“The first few rehearsals I felt like I wasn’t getting into the spirit of Lucy but I feel like I’ve grown into her,” White said. “It’s fun to play a brat. She’s been really fun to play. It’s expanding my horizons.”
White said she’s loved performing on the set, adding the show feels “straight out of a cartoon.”
Freshman Gavin Lewis, who plays Shermy, said he’s been having a “pretty good” time working on the show. The rehearsals, he added, have gotten “a little chaotic” as the sets and costumes have been added in.
Nick Hejmanowski, a freshman, said this is his first acting experience at Hayes, and it’s been very different from his time spent on middle school productions.
“It’s a much smaller cast,” Hejmanowski said. “It’s a lot more selective. It’s really cool to be a freshman at Hayes with a small cast.”
Hejmanowski, who plays Pig Pen, said he’s looking forward to taking part in the performances next week.
“I just always enjoy being on stage,” he said.
Junior George Callendine said playing the part of Linus has been “really different” than any of his previous roles.
“I’ve played a lot of comedic roles but this is serious,” Callendine said. “He’s thoughtful and quiet. I really like him.”
After students return from winter break, the Delaware Hayes Thespians will begin working on its production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” which will run from March 17-19, 2022.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.