Thespians to pre-record ‘Little Women’ musical for end of March

Kristen Smith, Visual Content Editor

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  • Cast member Audrey Young gets ready to go on stage to perform.

  • Cast member Rachel White prepares to go on stage during rehearsal.

  • Crew member Claire Oakes helps make props during rehearsal.

  • Cast member Alena Clark gets ready to perform on stage during rehearsal.

  • The cast now uses props during rehearsal.

  • Cast member Elijah Shireman watches rehearsal waiting for his scene to perform.

  • Cast member Walt Conte carries props back stage.

  • Crew member Alex Gribben helps fly the attic in.

  • Props are filling up space behind the stage.

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Over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to normal life, including performances and musicals. However, the Hayes Thespians are working hard to perform the musical “Little Women” during this unprecedented time.
Due to social distancing guidelines, the size of the cast and crew participating in the musical was kept to low numbers.
“It’s a much smaller cast… the smallest cast I think we’ve ever had has been about 30-35, this year our cast, with all the actors, [is] only 18,” Musical Director Dara Gillis said.
During rehearsals, Covid-19 safety protocols play an important role to the Thespians.
“They all get their temperatures taken the minute they walk in the door, then they have to complete a Covid safety Google form,” Gillis said.
Due to the state of the pandemic, the cast will not perform to a live audience this year.
“There are no live patrons, we are videoing and going to stream it, so people will be able to buy tickets starting on March 1st,” Gillis said.
The smaller cast size has affected the overall theater program. Many Thespians who have performed in the musical in years past could not be in the performance this year to keep the risk of spreading Covid-19 minimal.
“There are so many talented people involved in the Hayes theater program who you know we just can’t all be in the show this year and there’s definitely so many people that I miss being on stage with,” said junior Rachel White, who plays the role of Jo March.
The friendships created while performing has been another challenge faced this year due to the limited number of cast members and social distancing guidelines.
“Covid has affected team bonding within the drama department, because drama is something where you’re actively acting with each other, you’re being involved, you’re talking to people. We haven’t really had that experience,” said senior Meredith Keller, who plays the role of Marmee.
Gillis has also had to take on more tasks as the director this year. To ensure safety among the cast and crew, Gillis has to communicate with the district to get schedules and plans approved.
“It takes a little bit more planning, and a little bit different kind of planning,” Gillis said.
Although the Thespians are allowed to have the musical, the experience isn’t the same as traditional years.
“You don’t see everyone all the time, you’re socially distanced, we are wearing masks the whole time; it just feels everyone’s changed a lot due to Covid and so everyone’s kinda not themselves anymore,” Keller said.
Aspects of the performance like hair and makeup for the cast are also changing this year.
“We don’t have a makeup or a hair artist, we can’t be touched obviously… doing our own hair and makeup is going to be a challenge this year,” White said.
On top of that, the time that rehearsals are allowed to be has made timing and practicing more difficult.
“[Rehearsals] are for less time than years previous, so we’re only going until 5:30, whereas normally we’d be going until 6:00,” White said. “Then later in the schedule we’d be going until even 8:00 or 9:00.”
Along with the cast, the crew is also facing some challenges this year.
“This year we can’t be as close with the crew and especially with the cast, because we’re like completely separated,” props mistress Claire Oakes said. “A lot of people had to get cut, to size it down; I’m working with different people than I used to work with.”

To make the musical successful, leadership from senior Thespians is essential. In previous years, seniors have stepped up by planning times for the cast and crew to bond. This year the seniors are having to get more creative.
“Meredith Keller, who’s one of our leads and senior performers, is putting together a group chat for the cast and the crew and the pit, so they can have daily communication with each other,” Gillis said.
Although set in a completely different time period, the plot of “Little Women” resembles many teens’ experiences over the past year. In the musical the main character, Jo March sees her world crumble apart, just like many teenagers felt over the course of the pandemic.
“I think that it definitely relates to the world now because everyone’s going through this crazy life… we just have to focus on the people we love and do the things we love and just know that there’s better days coming,” White said.
While the Thespians are looking forward to putting on the musical, they are also hopeful for the future.
“[I’m] definitely looking forward to next year when the whole cast can be together, and we can hopefully do a bigger show,” White said.
After months of planning, rehearsing, and following Covid-19 safety measures, the musical will be available for streaming on-demand on March 26 & 27.