PHS Drama Gears Up to Survive Hell Week


PHS Theatre: Hawk Scene

Poster advertising the spring musical, Les Miserables.

Isabel Forsell, Reporter

Every year, the drama class here at PHS puts on a fantastic musical during the heart of springtime. Often the most hyped public event taking place at PHS during the season, the annual spring musicals have a history of being incredibly successful and extremely entertaining, and this year’s musical, Les Miserables, is expected to be no different. But in order to be entertaining and to gain that success, hard work must be put into the making of the musical. This process takes many excruciating hours over an endless number of weeks that, at some unnoticed point, turn into endless months. However, one particular stretch of time ends up taking the top prize for Most Dreaded Week every single year: the oh-so-famous Hell Week, taking place next week.

“We have 17.5 hours of rehearsal in the first three days of the week, followed by three performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday,” said PHS Band Director Justin Ehli. “We put together all the different elements of the musical at this time: lighting, sound, orchestra, singers, choreography, blocking, acting, set pieces, costumes, etc. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into putting all these forms of art together into a cohesive whole.”

A good portion of the time spent rehearsing will take place on Monday, with students in drama and pit orchestra missing all of their classes. While that may sound like heaven to some, it’s a bit more stressful to the students that it will affect.

“It’s just a lot of work,” said junior Elton Webb, a member of the pit orchestra. “But I’m kinda looking forward to it. I’ll be playing music all day, so there won’t be much complaining coming from me.”

In addition to the lack of class time, the drama department and put orchestra are expecting nearly non-existent breaks in between the rehearsals, as well as day-long rehearsals the weekend before Hell Week.

“I am expecting hell. But it must be a bit fun,” said senior and first-year drama student Casey Marinkovich (Woman #1 in Les Miserables). “Otherwise people wouldn’t be in drama.”

As they will be seeing little time for freedom and sleep on top of all of the rehearsal time, many students and staff members are expecting the week to be incredibly challenging. However, that isn’t preventing some from attempting to tackle the exhaustion head on.

“Water, vitamins, sleep, tea, repeat,” said senior and third-year drama student Riley Egge (Javert in Les Miserables). “Also, just praying for health and taking time to relax when I can.”

Some of the others involved don’t hesitate to add a bit of humor to their efforts to survive the week.

“Coffee and an existential crisis usually do the trick for me,” said Ehli.

Though Hell Week will be full of “a lot of screaming, singing, and tired teenagers”, it is worthwhile in the end. The pit orchestra and drama class will finally have the chance to bring all that they have learned in the last two months together for the first time, to make any last-minute clean-ups, and to bring life to their performances.

“It’s a necessity,” said Egge. “That extra time slows us to work on transitions and piece [together] everything like performing with the lighting and the props and costumes.”

While the students performing in the musical will feel the benefits that the extra rehearsals will bring them, the masterminds behind Les Miserables will literally be witness to those benefits coming into play, especially since they have been guiding the project from the start.

“I believe that when we make personal sacrifices for a performance, it makes the performance valuable,” said Ehli. “When that performance comes to fruition, it creates an immensely rewarding feeling that can’t be matched. Without the sacrifice required, the reward would not be nearly as powerful.”

When it comes down to it, the results of Hell Week  are immensely appreciated by the actors and musicians. The effects that it will have on the musical as a whole will greatly benefit those  involved, all of whom hope that their audience will see that and recognize it.

“I hope that everyone gets a chance to come see the play at some point,” said Webb. “It’s a pretty ambitious project that the school has taken on. We’ve put a lot of time and hard work into it and I think it’s going to turn out great.”

“You will probably get a good cry out of it,” added Marinkovich. “A few of us already did!”
Peninsula High School’s rendition of Les Miserables will premiere on Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. in the Milton S. Boyd Auditorium. More information can be found at