HHS Drama Club presents ‘Little Women.’

May 5, 2021

HHS Drama Club presents ‘Little Women.’

By Linda Fishel, Contributing Writer.

Photos by Bob Schulz.

HART — The Hart High School Drama Club presented the first three of six performances of the Broadway musical “Little Women” by Allan Knee this past weekend. Knee’s book is based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, which is semi-autobiographical and tells the story of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March.

The main theme follows them during a rough period in their lives while their father is away during the Civil War. Jo March, the main character, spends much of her time writing stories in their attic, hoping to get published.

The community as a whole, not just parents, get very involved with the drama club. For this event, several pieces of furniture specific to the Civil War time frame were provided on loan. From costumes, sets, video promotion and many, many backstage volunteers. Lots of willing hands made this musical a huge success. The audience was appreciative of this effort as evidenced by their laughter, ready applause, and glowing comments during intermission and following the show.

A key part to any successful performance is a good support system. Family members of the cast also have a role in the show, though they never appear on stage. This involves getting the students to rehearsals on time, but also practicing lines with them and encouraging them.

Sara McGhan has clocked many years as a “drama mom,” with three kids in the program; one current, and two alumni.  “My kids have loved drama forever,” she said. “Each one is a little different. Grace (who played Amy March) likes to run her lines with people other than mom. But with Josh, I would run so many lines, I could have been an extra in the show!”

“What I learned from drama, specifically Little Women,” said Grace McGhan, “is how to sound and be more confident singing by myself or a duet, and I feel like it’s going to help me a lot in the future. I was very surprised that we were able to do it. The whole entire time I was thinking that I am going to get quarantined or the school will shut down (due to COVID-19), but it didn’t and I am very glad it didn’t.”

Theodore Laurence III (Laurie), a neighbor to the March family, was played by Josh Huizenga. When asked about his experience with this drama, he mentioned being surprised by how much he connected to it. “I absolutely loved this musical. It’s a classic story and I was glad to play the part during my senior year.”

Because precautions were necessary to stop any spread of COVID, many changes from previous events were evident. Each cast member learned multiple roles in order to step in if another actor became unable to perform. Also there were two casts, with actors portraying a character at least three times during six performances. At times, virtual rehearsals were necessary due to quarantines, but the students did not let anything stop them from learning their parts.

Gina VanderKodde, who plays Jo March, shared her surprise at pulling off a show during all the COVID interruptions. “I actually was contact-traced a few weeks before opening night, so virtual rehearsals were very important.” Her sister Kelly, who plays Aunt March, also shared that “performing with understudies during times of interruption and being flexible to work on various projects helped.”

During the performances, seating was limited to every other row to keep audience members safe. Another necessity was face masks for the actors. Specially-designed masks for each cast member were personalized with a photo of the lower half of his/her face, so they resembled themselves as closely as possible. According to director David Moul, these masks were provided at no cost to the students because of COVID requirements. “We wanted to do everything possible to help the audience connect with the characters, and I think the custom masks have made a huge difference.”

This musical is performed in two acts with a 10-minute intermission. It includes more than 20 original musical numbers, with music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein.

Opening night for the musical was Friday, April 30, at Hart Middle School, with following performances on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. There will be three additional performances this weekend (May 7-9); Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and may be purchased at the box office or online at showtix4u.com by searching for the Hart High School Drama Club.

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