Bringing Broadway to the ‘Berg

Heidelberg Theatre’s presentation of Little Women: The Musical next week will have a can’t-miss level of professionalism that continues to grow on the Gundlach Theatre stage. It’s all part of Director Stephen Svoboda’s goal to give students a quality, true experience, both on stage and behind the scenes, and provide the same for audiences.

It’s working. Cast members Kenzie James, Gavin Hubbard and Sam Stohlman also are working on tech crews with three professional designers Stephen brought to campus to work with them on costumes, lighting and set design.

“We don’t know all the ins and outs of how the theatre world actually works, and they’re giving us a realistic inside look. They don’t sugar coat anything,” Kenzie said. “They all live and work in the world we dream of getting into one day, so it’s been especially awesome,” Kenzie said.

“They” are costume designer Nikke Delhomme from the Yale School of Drama, lighting director Chaun-Chi Chan, who returns to campus after lighting The Laramie Project last fall and set design specialist Rachel Robinson of Dayton.

For Sam, who’s the student tech foreman for Little Women and who has worked on lighting for past productions, it’s like a window opened to remove the guesswork to his lighting responsibilities. “Chi has taught me how to be prepared for things in the real world,” he said. “I’m learning exactly how things happen to a T, so things are done on time and done well. This is a very special thing for me. I’ve learned so much.”

All of the elaborate period costumes for Little Women have been built by the crew or rented from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Seeing them on stage will be as authentic as a Broadway production, Stephen said. The costume crew – which includes Gavin – realizes what a rare and special opportunity they’ve been given to work with Nikki.

“There’s a lot more organization involved,” Gavin said. “She brought us sketches so we’ve actually heard the stories behind the costumes.” The crew is working from a complex spreadsheet that lays out which characters have special costume pieces for the various stages of their performance.

Gavin also noted that in the past, costumes weren’t often altered. Nikki has taught them not only the possibilities but conducted sewing workshops where they learned how to make alterations. Understanding Nikki’s process – from pencil sketch to multiple paintings to finished product – has shown the students the true art involved in costume design process, Kenzie added.

The cast members are excited to wear costumes that actually appeared in Broadway productions or professional operas. “The authentic pieces really make a difference and give a sense of the period,” Gavin said. “We’re motivated to match the production quality these specialists have brought us.”

The cast and crew are taking their responsibilities seriously. If that means working until 5 in the morning, then they’re all in. “We’re not in a high school drama school, doing this for fun. This is real,” Kenzie said. Sam added, “This is work now, and we need to step it up.”

They’re soaking up any and all advice that Nikki, Chi and Rachel have to offer. They also appreciate the networking opportunities and where they may lead them in their careers.

“Nikki is such an amazing talent and has invaluable advice,” Kenzie said. “It’s a lot to live up to, but we want their stamp of approval.”

Show dates for Little Women: The Musical are Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 16-19. You can reserve your tickets at gundlachtheatre.org.

See you at the show.

Here is the cast list for Little Women the Musical:

  • Jo March – Lo Erin Jackson
  • Beth March – Kristina Kamm
  • Amy March – Kaylea Bowers
  • Meg March – Erikka Breidenbach
  • Marmee – Savannah Overly
  • Aunt March – Dani Hummel-Sass
  • Laurie Laurence (Monk) – Gavin Hubbard
  • John Brook (Monk) – Logan Kittaka
  • Professor Bhaer – Sam Stohlman
  • Mr. Laurence – Dr. Greg Ramsdell
  • Mrs. Kirk – Emma Penrose
  • Clarissa/Ensemble – Kyrsten Lilly
  • Braxton/Ensemble – Connor Applegate
  • Rodrigo/Ensemble – Ethan Miller
  • Knight/Ensemble – Joe Boehler
  • Hag/Ensemble – Laila Gernert
  • Troll/Ensemble – Austin Buckhalter
  • Rodrigo 2/Ensemble – Haley Schreiner
  • Ensemble – Mackenzie James
  • Ensemble – Connor Ware
  • Ensemble – Chad Walkins
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