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New musical tells story of World War I heroines

L-R: Rosemarie Chandler as Grace Banker and Gabrielle Smith as Suzanne Prevot Photo: Reg Madison Photography, courtesy of The Phoenix Theatre Company

L-R: Rosemarie Chandler as Grace Banker and Gabrielle Smith as Suzanne Prevot
Photo: Reg Madison Photography, courtesy of The Phoenix Theatre Company

A jazzy new musical that chronicles the story of the first women to join the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I as switchboard operators will kick off the new year for The Phoenix Theatre Company. Making its West Coast premiere, The Hello Girls runs Jan. 5–30.

Based on a true story, The Hello Girls is a modern retelling of a critical part of history in the struggle for women’s rights. Serving as bilingual telephone operators helping turn the tide in World War I, these brave and inspiring women had to fight to make their way to the front lines and struggled to gain the respect of their peers and the nation. After the war, they fought a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations to fight for equal representation. While they were officially the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit, they were typically known as “The Hello Girls.”

“This show is an opportunity to tell a slice of history that had a significant impact on women’s rights in our country, but isn’t very well known,” said Cara Reichel, director and co-creator. “The characters depict real life military heroines who disrupted the status quo during the early 20th-century and helped pivot the first world war’s outcome.”

While The Hello Girls musical is fictionalized, the show is based on historical information and drew inspiration from the 2017 book, The Hello Girls, by Elizabeth Cobbs.

The Phoenix Theatre Company production features Rosemarie Chandler as Grace Banker; Gabrielle Smith as Suzanne Prevot; Michelle Chin as Helen Hill; Carmiña Garey as Louise LeBreton; Bonnie Beus Romney as Bertha Hunt; Kevin Robert White as Lt. Ernest Wessen; Scott Wakefield as General Pershing; Alex Crossland as Pvt. Eugene Matterson; Keiji Ishiguri as Pvt. Dempsey; and Teddy Ladley as Cpt. Joseph Riser. The 1900s era costumes for the show were created by the theatre’s costume designer, Cari Sue Smith, to pay homage to the era. Additionally, many of the performers play musical instruments on stage.

Tickets for The Hello Girls are on sale now. To purchase, call 602-254-2151 or visit www.phoenixtheatre.com.

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