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From New York to Paris, from ragtime to jazz:  THE HELLO GIRLS chronicles the story of America’s first women soldiers in this new musical inspired by history.  These intrepid heroines served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines, helping turn the tide of World War I.  They then returned home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations.  THE HELLO GIRLS was commissioned and premiered by NYC’s Prospect Theater Company to celebrate the centennial of these groundbreaking women.

The protagonist of THE HELLO GIRLS is Grace Banker, chief of the first female telephone operators’ unit of the US Army Signal Corps. The unit was set up in 1917 on the orders of General Pershing, who wanted skilled telephone operators to ensure effective communication between the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. Of course, the best operators at that time were women, so that’s who Pershing set out to recruit.

In order to coordinate with Ferdinand Foch’s army, the operators also need to be fluent in French, making Franco-American Louise LeBreton  a shoo-in. Idaho farm girl Helen Hill has been speaking French with her maman since she could crawl. Bertha Hunt isn’t content to sit at home while her husband ships off, so she joins the army too. Suzanne Prevot sees enlistment as an opportunity for adventure. She convinces Grace to join her, arguing, “Girls like us – we aren’t cut out for tending Victory Gardens.” Of course, Grace will have to cultivate her professional relationship with her immediate superior, Lt. Joseph Riser, a man’s man who is none too thrilled about leading a company of ladies.

Learn more about the real world “Hello Girls” in the video from Peter Mills’ channel. (Player found below.)

Listen to the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of THE HELLO GIRLS on Spotify! (Player found below.)

AUDITION INFORMATION:

Director: Sharla Ronchetto

Assistant Director: Rozy Labriola

Vocal Director: Bonnie Brewer

Choreographer: Jordyn Clark

 

Ragtime, jazz, and tight harmonies help tell the story of the incredible Hello Girls, the women who answered the call and went on to go down in history as the USA's first female soldiers. During World War I, there was a need for bilingual telephone switchboard operators, and it was women who were the most qualified for the job. In this new musical, experience what these trailblazing women went through on their ground-breaking journey that would help win the war. This is a show that asks us all, "If you have the chance, will you answer the call?"​

 

AUDITION AND CALLBACK DATES/LOCATION:

AUDITIONS: Thursday, May 9, time slots beginning at 6:00 pm

CALLBACKS: Friday, May 10, starting at 6:00 pm

LOCATION: KVTA Studios 1 Stuart Dr. Kankakee, IL 60901

 

PERFORMANCE DATES/LOCATION:

July 26, 27, and 28, 2024

KVTA Studios 1 Stuart Dr. Kankakee, IL 60901

Questions regarding auditions, callbacks, or casting may be emailed to the Director, Sharla Ronchetto, at: KVTA.sharla@gmail.com

 

AUDITION INFORMATION:

Please sign up for an audition time HERE.
- Time slots are currently limited to 10 auditioners per time slot. 

- Additional time slots may be added and/or the number of auditioners per time slot may be increased, if needed.

- If you cannot attend any of these audition time slots, please email the Director at KVTA.sharla@gmail.com and we will come up with a suitable option for everyone involved.
 

The Hello Girls features five women and five men. A few additional ensemble members of either/both gender may be added. All actors need to be able to independently hold a harmony line and have a fairly wide vocal range. Some movement will be required. All auditioners must be 16 or older; and actors of any ethnicity/race are encouraged to audition. All auditioners must complete an audition form, a conflict calendar, and sign our KVTA policies acknowledgement form. Cast members are required to provide the following personal items: shoes, socks, and stage makeup. Optional expenses are the purchase of a show DVD, a picture CD, apparel items, etc.

Audition Form can be downloaded by clicking HERE

Conflict Calendar can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

ANTICIPATED REHEARSAL TIMES:

Rehearsals will start the week of May 13, 2024. Rehearsals will typically be Monday-Friday from 6:30-9:00. During May and June, Friday rehearsals will be on an “as needed” basis. While we are learning vocals, choreography/movement, and blocking, not all actors will be needed at all rehearsals. Once we begin running scene blocks, rehearsals will be full cast. Please list all conflicts that you have Monday-Friday, from 6:30-9:00, May 13-July 19. Conflicts will not preclude you from being cast; they are needed for us to develop a rehearsal schedule. Attendance during Tech Week (July 22-28) is mandatory. Also, we hope to have several promotional events (Farmer’s Market, Veterans’ Home, etc., on weekends). Those dates will be determined once the cast is set.

Character Descriptions

Below are brief profiles of the roles. Except for Riser and Pershing, the men play a variety of supporting roles. Ages listed are suggested 'stage age'. French language skills are a plus, but not required. Cast members will be instructed in the French dialogue during rehearsals.

GRACE BANKER: 25-30 (soprano) From Passaic, New Jersey; the leader of the squadron that went to the front, she received the Distinguished Service Medal for her bravery under fire; worked at AT&T as a telephone operator and supervisor before joining the army; articulate and poised, with a core of steely strength that makes itself apparent as she grows into her role as leader.

SUZANNE PREVOT: 24 -30 (alto) From New York City; feisty, sardonic, tough talking; a close friend of Grace's from AT&T; very invested in the fight for women's suffrage and leads the women's fight for recognition after the war.

LOUISE LE BRETON: 18 (soprano) From San Francisco; fearless, flirty, headstrong and often insubordinate; she lies about her age to join the army; born in France, she has family fighting with the French army. A French accent for this character is preferred.

HELEN HILL: 22-30 (2nd soprano) From outside Boise, Idaho; atypical small town farm girl. From a family of 17 children with a mother who speaks French; sweet, over-enthusiastic, wholesomely kooky and prone to nervous panic.

BERTHA HUNT: 33 (alto) From San Francisco; married to a Navy doctor who is also serving; older, wiser, reliable; The Den Mother; extremely knowledgeable about military matters. Plays the piano onstage, if possible.

CPT JOSEPH W RISER: 35 - 40 (baritone) The Signal Corps commanding officer who recruits and trains the women, and journeys with them to the front; a career army man, a stickler for rules and order, he is skeptical of the women's presence in the army. He develops a close working relationship with Grace, who challenges his world view and converts him to an advocate.

GEN JOHN PERSHING: 50 - 60 (baritone) Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces; hard, relentless, inflexible, with a deep sense of honor and American individualism and identity.

LT ERNEST WESSEN (& Others): 20 - 40 (tenor) Head of the American recruiting centre for the Signal Corps.

PVT EUGENE MATTERSON (& Others): 20 - 30 (tenor) An enlisted man for the Signal Corps, who works closely with Lt. Riser. He also has an interest in Suzanne Prevot.

PVT ROBERT DEMPSEY (& Others): 20 - 30 (baritone) A Signal Corps operator at the central Paris Telephone Exchange.

INITIAL AUDITION FORMAT:

At the initial audition, everyone will read one monologue of their choice from options provided and sing one of the vocal options from the list provided. Then the group will perform the pre-learned dance together. The dance will not be taught at the auditions; you must learn it beforehand.

Audition materials may be accessed here: AUDITION

Vocal Options (choose the one that best highlights your singing abilities):

FEMALE option #1 = Answer the Call, measures 1-18

FEMALE option #2 = Hello Girls, measures 32-58

MALE = Hello Girls, measures 1-33

DANCE:
All auditioners will perform the audition dance within their small group. The audition dance has been recorded for the auditioners to learn on their own before the auditions. There is a front view of the dance and a back view of the dance, as well as an instruction video. We will not teach the dance at the auditions. All auditioners are expected to learn their audition dance before the audition and perform their dance without instruction at auditions. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing to move in, as well as appropriate shoes for dancing.

Dance videos can be accessed HERE.

CALLBACKS:

Friday, May 10, 2024, starting at 6:00 pm
• For anyone new to the audition process, callbacks are only for select auditioners that the show staff members (i.e. Director, Assistant Director, Vocal Director, Choreographer) would like to see again. If you are not called back, this does NOT mean that you will not be cast in the show.

• We will use your audition number when we post the callbacks. Please take note of what number you are given at the initial audition.

• We will post a callback list on the KVTA website at http://www.kvta.org and on the KVTA Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/kankakeetheatre on Thursday, May 9, after all initial auditions have been completed, so it will be late in the evening. Your patience is greatly appreciated! 
• If for any reason you cannot make this callback date, PLEASE email the Director before your audition, or tell the board member working the check-in table at auditions. 
• If you are called back, it is highly encouraged that you make every effort to attend the callbacks. 

Callback materials may be accessed here: AUDITION

POSSIBLE SONGS FOR CALLBACKS:

ALL FEMALES = See You On The Other Side, measures 22-34

GRACE = Twenty, measures 105-124

ALL MALES = See You On The Other Side, measures 85-98

RISER = Marching Orders, measures 80-101

PERSHING = Lives On The Line, measures 1-19

POSSIBLE SCENES FOR CALLBACKS:

PERSHING, RISER, and GRACE: p. 85-86

RISER and GRACE: p. 113-114

MATTERSON and SUZANNE: p. 36-37

MEN, HELEN, BERTHA, and LOUISE: p. 14-17

GRACE, SUZANNE, HELEN, BERTHA, and LOUISE: p. 93-95

GRACE and SUZANNE: p. 83-84

CAST LIST: 
The cast list will be posted on the KVTA website at http://www.kvta.org and on the KVTA Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/kankakeetheatre on Friday, May 10, after all callbacks have been completed, so it could be very late in the evening. Thank you in advance for your patience as we will have many difficult decisions to make! 
 

For those cast in the show, our CAST READ THRU will be on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 6:00 pm, at the KVTA Studios. This is a mandatory meeting.

Questions? Send an email to: KVTA.sharla@gmail.com

Thank you! Break a leg!

The Hello Girls 2024 Staff

Reviews of the World Premiere of THE HELLO GIRLS:

“Move over, Mean Girls and Wicked: There’s a new musical exploding with grrrl power, female camaraderie and uplifting songs” – TimeOut NY

“Simply stated, don’t miss it…fascinating historical story, great music, an exceptional cast, and the finest staging…The company of The Hello Girls is tops.” – BroadwayWorld

“Filled with memorable songs and brilliant performances, it is a musical as triumphant as the true story on which it is based…Mills (who wrote the music and lyrics) has filled this action-packed war story with instant-classic songs…a particularly joyous experience. You won’t want to say goodbye.” – Theatermania

“First-class entertainment…musically rich, beautifully staged and vibrantly performed” – CurtainUp

“one of the best new musicals I’ve seen Off-Broadway…a consummate ensemble piece…The Hello Girls is a winner on all fronts” – BlogCritics.org

“The musical numbers are catchy, and the lyrics are bright and intelligent…winning performances” – Wolf Entertainment Guide

“Terrific beyond belief…Mills is a “deft lyricist” and “one of our major lyric writing talents”– BroadwayRadio

SHOWTIMES:

FRIDAY, JULY 26 @ 7 PM

SATURDAY, JULY 27 @ 2 PM

SUNDAY, JULY 28 @ 2 PM​

LOCATION:

KVTA Black Box Theatre, 1 Stuart Dr, Kankakee, IL 60901

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