Show closes June 1, 2024.

OREM — The Hello Girls, a musical written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, is a somewhat newer musical, having first premiered in 2018 off Broadway. The show has only had a handful of productions, and there is not a lot of information save a few reviews and the sparse history of the Hello Girls themselves, the women who in World War 1 managed the switchboards in France as bilingual telephone operators. Presented at Hale Theatre in Orem, The Hello Girls, directed by Barta Heiner, is a triumph in many ways.

If you are not new to musical theatre in Utah, you know that seeing the credit of Anne Puzey as music director means your ears will be pleased. The music in Hello Girls is no exception. The small cast of ten people leaves no room for error. The tight harmonies that the cast utilized during the chorus numbers were impeccable, and the solo numbers were outstanding. Having not heard any of the songs before the night’s proceedings, each was a new experience. The beginning, Answer the Call, had a great deal of emotion to it, and the way the voices combined was so energetic that it got me engrossed from the start. As I have felt with a lot of the mid-sized theatres in Utah, the only thing that would have improved this production music wise would be the addition of live musicians. The high level of musical talent we have in the valley should not be underestimated, and the ability to have live music at semiprofessional theatres is something that should be celebrated.

The ability of the cast to tell this new story, with the help of the fantastic design crew, says much about the creativity of the production team as a whole. The lighting design by Michael Gray combined with scenic design by Jason Baldwin and media design by Bobby Gibson was inspiring. Along the back wall of the stage was a replica of a telephone switch board, and periodically within the switchboard, images of the actual soldiers and women who had served as the telephone operators would be projected. These reminders that the story being brought to life on stage was a depiction of actual events.

The story surrounds the experience of Grace Banker, the chief officer, played magnificently by Megan Heaps, as she works with her team of women who have experience in telephone operation and speaking French, to make sure and transfer important calls and make sure that information gets where it needs to go so that battles can be won. The audience watches key moments, such as Heaps counseling a colleague to not keep a diary as it is against policy, and the colleague, Bertha Hunt, played by Shannon Eden, points out that if they don’t tell their own story, who will? The beauty in that sentiment is why I love when a theatre company chooses to do a show like the Hello Girls, one that is not as well known or done each season. It is also why I love an organization like UTBA, that chooses to review community theatre as well as big professional productions, because we want to tell the story of all theatre in Utah. And it is why I love that playwrights all over are digging in and telling all the stories they can find. Because when we usually think about the stories of war, we think of the Captain Joseph Riser (played by Ben Henderson) and not the women behind the scenes like Suzanne Prevot (played by Bronwyn Andreoli). I found myself reminded this is the same at a great show. We are thinking about the beautiful song sung by Heaps, but not all the things going on behind the scenes by prop designers Linda Hale and Elisabeth Goulding, or the tireless hours of research by costume designer Kim Wright. Other powerful moments are when Thomas Wood, playing a prisoner of war, says the powerful want us to hate each other, or Heaps, before singing the epic song Twenty, reminds the audience that when we put someone on a pedestal they have nowhere to go.

The concept of the show and the need to work together was beautifully brought together in a scene where the Hello Girls were called upon to not only connect a call between two generals, but provide translation as well, and Banker chose Louise LeBreton, played by Bo Chester, to be the one to handle the call because of her French capability, considering the history of that event, and the direction skills of Heiner, the dialect skills of Dianna Graham, the French language coaching from Daniel Clegg, and so many other behind the scenes movements that were happening to make this one moment on stage a true success, just like this one moment in history was a true success that was assisted and orchestrated by the Hello Girls.

As is the case in much of history, these women did not get the credit they deserve, and as is often the case in entertainment, many times we applaud at the end, throw away our programs and concessions and forget that there are so many people involved in making a show. It is the same with anything in life. Whatever event we ponder, the pathway to success was likely paved with much more than we acknowledge in any one moment of celebration.

Hello Girls plays Mon-Sat at various times through June 1, 2024 at the Orem Hale Theatre, 225 W 400 N, Orem, Utah. Tickets are $34-49. For more information see

This review was supported by a generous grant from the Orem CARE program.