Midland High Drama Club will perform its first musical in two years

Musical theater returns to the Central Auditorium stage this week as the Midland High School Drama Club performs ‘The Hello Girls’.

The play, which runs at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, tells the story of America’s first female soldiers who fought for equality on the war front as well as on the home front.

Director Megan Cummins found “The Hello Girls” in March 2020, just after schools switched to virtual learning due to the pandemic. As she applied for the rights to perform the musical for the drama club’s next season, she had no idea it would be another two years before Midland High could perform it.

Although the soundtrack was the first aspect that attracted Cummins, it was the story that really shined. She observed how the show balances comedy and drama in an entertaining approach ideal for performers and their audiences.

“As a tale of the first women to serve as soldiers in the U.S. military, it’s a story worth telling,” Cummins said. “The educational value for my students as performers and as a history lesson was too good to pass up.”

“The Hello Girls” is inspired by the stories of women who served in the US Army Signal Corps. During the First World War, these bilingual telephone operators held the switchboards, even on the front line in the trenches. They were the first women to be sworn into the military, but then had to fight another 60 years to have their veteran status recognized.

Senior Alexandria Bressette will play Grace Banker, the chief female switchboard operator for the US Signal Corps. Bressette explained that Grace is caught between her desire to pursue equality for women in the military and following the rules and doing what’s best for her team.

“I admire his determination and his dynamism. I learned a lot from her, actually. She never gives up, even when the going gets tough or there’s a setback,” Bressette said.

Another member of the standard team is Helen Hill, represented by senior Lilly Kyro. Kyro explained that Helen was a small-town Idaho girl who knew French and wanted to use her skills to fight for her country. Kyro admires Helen’s perseverance throughout her journey.

“She’s a bundle of nerves, always anxious. She’s a rule follower but realizes throughout the series that sometimes you have to break a few rules to get to places in life,” Kyro said.

Fellow senior George Hageage plays Captain Joseph Riser, the switchboard’s unit leader. Captain Riser is described as a man “according to the books” who is skeptical of the place of women in warfare. As Hagaeage sees how misguided Captain Riser is in his beliefs, he admires his sense of duty.

“He has this interesting dynamic where he’s like, ‘How can I bark at the same person I was taught to hold the door? He’s conflicted, but he eventually comes back as they prove to him that they’re just as willing and just as ready (to serve their country) as he is. It’s fun to watch him go on this journey,” Hageage said.

“I think this is one of our stories that slipped through the cracks because so often the story is told with a broad lens, so to speak, focusing on the stories of the powerful men in charge. “, said Cummins. “But history is history, and we tell the stories that matter to us; this one mattered to me. I think it’s important to honor the work done by women to help shape our nation.

Kyro hopes audiences will learn something new and appreciate these heroes that history has almost forgotten. Hageage hopes the play will help change some perspectives of past events and encourage others to learn more about female switchboard operators during World War I.

While students tend to learn about the story in broader terms, the cast of “The Hello Girls” spent time researching their individual characters and their contributions.

“I hope everyone (in the audience) will see that with love, passion and drive, you can do whatever you want, no matter who you are, where you come from, female or male,” he said. said Bressette.

“The Hello Girls” is Midland High’s first musical in two years. The students are thrilled to work with the production team as well as the orchestra to bring this show to life. Bressette is thrilled to have the whole ensemble back, because she’s missed the teamwork that comes with performing a musical.

“I particularly enjoy telling a story through song and dance,” Bressette said.

Cummins is pleased with the hard work and determination shown by the young cast and crew over the past several months despite the obstacles the pandemic has presented to the performing arts.

“These students have really persevered in order to have a production this winter. I’m very proud of everything they’ve accomplished and the obstacles they’ve overcome,” Cummins said.

The full cast includes Oliver Admire, Caedmon Applegate, Jessica Ashland, Grace Armstrong, Elexa Barber, Bella Blimka, Alexandria Bressette, Zero Durham, Briar Fuerst, George Hageage, Lilly Kyro, Rylee Marshall, Leif Maslowski, Quinn McMath, Jocelyn Perez, Abagail Price, Cody Ridder, Myah Shelton and Maxwell Teal.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and can be purchased at the door.

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