COLUMBIA — Chorus girls sprinted on and off the stage in a blur of gold sequins as the tech crew checked the sound. Unfinished flats, one half-painted barn and the others outlined in stencil were pushed into position.
Organized chaos filled the auditorium at Hickman High School during the final week of rehearsal for "White Christmas." The largest musical Hickman has ever performed debuts its three-night run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
WHAT: Hickman High School production of the musical "White Christmas"
WHEN: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hickman High School auditorium
COST: $5 for students and senior citizens; $7 for adults
Tickets can be purchased at the door the evenings of the performance or in the Fine Arts Office of Hickman High School between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The show within a show is full of demands: several big dance numbers, a large chorus and an assembly of costumes.
"We have more costumes for this show than any other production I have ever done anywhere," choreography director Robin Steinhaus said.
Since auditions in September, the cast has practiced two to three hours every day except Fridays and Sundays. As opening night loomed, rehearsals lengthened to four hours as lighting, sound and the orchestra came together.
Alex Boyt, a senior who portrays the general who owns a failing Vermont inn, said the frenzy of Wednesday's rehearsal was not uncommon for a first full-fledged dress rehearsal because there is so much to incorporate.
Senior Maddie Delcourt and junior Olivia Jones play the roles of sisters who steal the hearts of two Army veterans. All four lead characters are in show business, and they pair up to bring tourists to the deserted inn for Christmas as a winter heat wave sets in.
At rehearsal, the entire chorus fills the stage and junior Logan Moore’s eyes light up as he takes the lead as a crooner singing "Blue Skies."
The song is one of the cast’s favorites. Moore considers it a classic. “It’s really beautiful, and I get to sing really high in it,” he said.
The lead couple in the musical is played by Moore and Delcourt, whose characters — Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes — hate each other for most of the show before falling in love. When Betty mistakenly learns that Bob is trying to buy the inn, she leaves instead of confronting him, causing him to follow.
“She just creates a bunch of drama," Moore said, rolling his eyes and smiling.
While Delcourt and Moore showcase their vocals, Jones and senior Scott Mason are the dancers of the show.
The close camaraderie of the cast is the heart of the production. Most of the performers, comprised of sophomores, juniors and seniors, have worked together before and grab dinner together after rehearsals.
Since rehearsals began, Delcourt and Jones call each other sister when they pass in the hall at school. Delcourt helps Jones run her lines and makes sure she has her dances down before she goes on stage.
"It's intimidating trying to keep up with the seniors," Jones said. "But Maddie has been like a big sister to me."
Rachel Cornell, who plays the concierge at the inn, sees Delcourt as a perfect fit for Betty — a role Delcourt embraced while watching the movie "White Christmas" every day for two weeks before auditions.
"They cast the leads perfectly," Boyt said. "It wasn't just about who was best for the part but also if there was chemistry between the pairs."
Boyt, who plays the strict general, has been in theater since eighth grade and plans to pursue acting after graduation. He's already auditioned at some colleges.
Performing with friends who have become family brings more fun to the stage and cohesion to the show, Boyt said. “It’s a great show, it’s a very tough show, but it will be really rewarding once we pull it off.”