Carnation City Players tell story of the ‘first women soldiers’ in ‘The Hello Girls’
Published: 6 October 2022
By Ed Balint via The Repository Newspaper (OH) CantonRep.com web site
ALLIANCE − Amid the backdrop of lively piano playing, a female ensemble walked onto the stage of Firehouse Theatre during a recent weeknight rehearsal led by Rosie Bresson.
A sense of perseverance and triumph already filled the venue moments after Bresson set the scene with narration explaining that during World War I, telephones and switchboard operators would be of vital importance for relaying information about military movements and supplies and other aspects of the fighting.
Over the objections of men, the French-speaking American women would fill those roles during the war effort because they were the most skilled at the trade during the early era of telephone usage.
Bresson portrays Grace Banker in the lead role, with a cast also featuring Amanda Medley, Emily Schrader, Carri Wagner, Abigail Collinsworth, Missy Brand and Jill Bauer.
During the rehearsal, the women performed with purpose and urgency while presenting the history of a group that helped turn the tide of World War I as members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Carnation City Players will present the musical “The Hello Girls” on Friday and Saturday and Oct. 14-16. Tickets, $13 for adults and $12 for students younger than 18, can be purchased at https://www.carnationcityplayers.org/tickets or by calling 330-821-8712.
Friday and Saturday performances start at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday shows start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets may be picked up at the box office beginning one hour prior to showtime. The auditorium opens 30 minutes before curtain time. Firehouse Theatre is at 450 E. Market St. in downtown Alliance.
‘Their battle in getting what they deserved’
Director Don McCallister said he believes the story of “The Hellos Girls” deserves to be more widely known.
During World War I, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Canada, Japan and the United States (the Allied Powers).
Based on the work of Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, with lyrics and music by Mills, “The Hello Girls” chronicles the story of “intrepid heroines” who served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines before returning home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, “paving the way for future generations,” Carnation City Players explains in the musical’s program.