Six Palo Alto High School students are set to perform in a state-wide production of “Hello! My Baby” as part of a state thespian festival later this month in Southern California.
Paly junior Lana Graves and sophomores Alia Cuadros-Contreras, Nadia Leinhos, Jason Pollak, Johnny Rohrbach and Zoe Sego auditioned at Paly to be a part of the musical last April and were chosen a few weeks after auditioning. The students had to prepare a song and read scenes for the audition, Leinhos says. Twenty students in total from various parts of California were selected for the production, which is a part of the 2015 California State Thespian Festival.
The musical, set in New York City during the 1910s, follows two young couples involved in the developing pop music industry, according to Rohrbach. The show features music composed by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern.
“It [the plot] is an interesting web that gets spun,” Rohrbach said.
The student performers must travel to Los Angeles to rehearse for three weekends in total. According to sophomore Jason Pollak, the rehearsals last about 14 hours each day. While a production would typically be rehearsed in two- to three-hour intervals, the producers of this show have condensed the rehearsal time because so much travel is required to rehearse.
“The show is turning out pretty well so far, although a lot of work has been squeezed into maybe five total days of rehearsal since the beginning of the project,” Leinhos said.
According to Pollak, the cast has one more rehearsal before performing and is now focused on making sure the show runs smoothly.
Rohrbach encourages anyone who will be in the Southern California area to come watch the play.
“I think it’ll turn out really well,” Rohrbach said. “It’ll be well worth it in the end.”
The show was created and written by Cheri Steinkellner, a Tony-nominated and Emmy-winning playwright who also wrote the popular musical “Sister Act.”
Leinhos says she wanted to be a part of the show because of Steinkellner’s mindset.
“She [Steinkellner] wants our generation to learn and enjoy the songs that gave kids hope and joy so long ago, and I think with us bringing the show to State Festival, we’re on our way to helping achieve that goal for her,” Leinhos said.
California Thespians, a chapter of the Educational Theatre Association, is sponsoring the production, according to Rohrbach.