A dramatic production at Chaminade typically has around two months to rehearse and prepare. On Friday, Sugar had to do it in less than two hours. When the musical was suddenly left without a lead shortly before its second performance, everyone involved had to take incredible measures to ensure the success of the show. Nothing like this had ever happened to Chaminade Drama before. However, instead of letting the pressure or stress drag them down, the cast and crew decided to make history.
It started at 5:30 PM, the normal call time for actors. The cast and crew was told to report to the Little Theater for a meeting. They weren’t told why, but it was immediately clear that it was urgent. Once everyone filed into the theater, Director Rob Grumich delivered devastating news: the girl playing Sugar had departed the show. Freshman Vincent Laury described his reaction, saying, “At first, I was completely stunned. I was blank for a few seconds.
Questions of why, how, what for, ran through my head. But the question that stuck out in the end was ‘what now?’”. This reaction was shared by everyone in the room that night. The cast was shocked and confused, but they needed to focus on what they had to do. They show had to go on, and the clock was ticking.
Kelly Gleeson was chosen as a replacement for the lead role of Sugar Kane. McKay Marshall took over Kelly’s old role of Sweet Sue. No one doubted the talent of these two actresses, but the task they were faced with was monumental. While it was quickly decided that they would have scripts onstage, there is more to a performance than memorizing lines. Both actresses immediately got to work running through all of their scenes. Despite the situation, they remained optimistic and simply focused on doing what they needed to do.
“I just thought that I need to be calm, collected, and focused so that I can perform the show to the best to my ability”, said Kelly. McKay echoed this sentiment, saying “I knew that the best thing for me to do was to stay calm. After about 30 minutes of reviewing the lines I felt pretty confident and continued to tell myself to have a positive mindset and to just have fun.
That was the greatest part of this whole process. This whole situation reminded me how much fun I have while performing and how happy it truly makes it feel.”
But the pressure wasn’t just on them. The entire cast and crew scrambled to make sure everything was prepared. Actors who shared scenes with Sugar and Sweet Sue helped Kelly and McKay step into their new roles. Musical numbers and scenes had to be changed, with some parts being cut entirely. With so much happening all at once, the collective feeling of stress was palpable.
That said, there was energy among the cast, too. The situation brought out incredible determination and perseverance in the cast and crew. It may have been stressful and nerve-wracking, but it was also exciting, and even fun. Everyone involved united and came closer together as they attempted to accomplish something that was unprecedented. As Kelly puts it, “all the crazy pressure that was put on us made us come together as a family and grow.”
Although time was quickly running out, the cast was still able to return to the Little Theater for a quick warm-up session shortly before taking the stage. Afterwards, they joined hands for a short prayer. Given the circumstances, they needed it now more than ever. They then left the Little Theater and got ready to perform. It was showtime.
The show began at 7:30, half an hour after the scheduled start time. The crowd was packed due to that night’s attendance event. Mr. Grumich addressed the crowd beforehand and explained the situation. While it was reassuring to know that the audience understood the predicament, it didn’t make the task any easier. As the pit orchestra played the overture, the cast waited in the wings, nervously anticipating the show to come. The curtains then raised, and the first musical number began.
During this first scene, something magical happened. Against all odds, it was good. In fact, it was fantastic, arguably better than it was before. The actors were more focused, more energetic, and were having more fun than they previously had been. The audience showed tremendous support, applauding after every scene and laughing after every joke. As every passing scene went smoothly, the cast grew more and more confident. Despite the odds being stacked against them, they were pulling it off.
After the final scene of the show, the cast let out a collective sigh of relief. They took the stage for the most joyous curtain call in recent memory, and were met with thundering applause from the audience. After the curtains went down, the cast followed suit and erupted in celebration. The excitement and happiness on that stage cannot be overstated.
As Kelly put it, “That was the best performance we ever had and you could feel this energy of happiness and excitement after final bows”. The cast then filed into the Little Theater once again, and were congratulated by the directors. This momentous occasion was certainly worth celebrating. Through determination, positivity, and cooperation, the cast and crew of Sugar had successfully done the impossible.
Chaminade Drama has a knack for pulling shows together at the last minute. This was certainly demonstrated here, but it isn’t what saved the show. This successful performance was made possible through the shared efforts of every cast member, crew member, and director. As Mr. Grumich put it in an email to the cast, “I very much felt the love in the building for each other and have never been more proud to be a part of the Chaminade theatre community.” The bonds between everyone involved with the program are what truly set Chaminade Drama apart from the rest. The drama department at this school is a family, and it took every family member to pull through on Friday. This family spirit transformed the second performance of Sugar, which seemed to be doomed from the start, into a phenomenal show that will be talked about for years to come.
For more news about Chaminade Drama, follow @ccpdrama on Instagram, and be sure to support the drama department at future performances.