Alexandra Economou ‘25
After 55 years of being the home of the College of the Holy Cross’ theater department, Fenwick Theater is hosting its last musical this semester. “She Loves Me,” a romantic comedy set in 1930’s Budapest, will run February 10–13 and February 17–20, after which HC’s musicals will migrate to the College’s cutting-edge Prior Center for the Performing Arts. I got the chance to talk to two members of the cast — one preparing for graduation and the other just beginning her time on the Hill — about what being a part of this show has meant to them.
Sadie O’Conor ‘22 has participated in Holy Cross’ productions since she was a first-year student. Beginning her college theatre career as Beth in “Little Women,” she now finds herself leading lady as Amalia Balash, a whip-smart yet idealistic employee of Maraczek’s Parfumerie. “She’s a very bright, very literary, sophisticated, artsy type,” O’Conor explains. However, Sadie isn’t the only one that gets the chance to shine. She makes it a point to emphasize how each character has their own distinct vocal style, allowing audiences to see the show’s cast play to their strengths. Behind the scenes, Sadie and her castmates celebrate and support each other through their performances: “It’s a real joy to watch them perform.”
This friendly, welcoming atmosphere is typical of a Holy Cross production. “All the professors are really supportive, it’s a real community,” Sadie said of the College’s theater department. Newcomer to the Holy Cross theatre scene, Mary Grace Kelly ‘25, echoed this sentiment. “Everyone is so kind and supportive, from the leading roles to the smallest ensemble parts.” Kelly is a member of the show’s ensemble, which serves to embellish the story with hilarious character performances and grand dance numbers. She’s been honored to learn and play alongside experienced upperclassmen such as O’Conor, as well as forge lasting friendships with her fellow first-years.
When asked about the theater department’s new venue, both Sadie and Mary Grace expressed excitement. “It’s bittersweet,” Sadie admits. Fenwick Theater has been a home to college thespians for generations, and for the department’s alumni, it brings about a lot of nostalgia. However, she hopes that the opening of the Performing Arts Center will allow for a revival of college traditions. Fenwick used to be a hub for both Holy Cross students and Worcester residents to come together and enjoy the performing arts. With the new building’s comprehensive combination of performance spaces, practice rooms, and common areas for students of all disciplines of the performing arts, O’Conor predicts a resurgence of the college’s artistic presence.
Mary Grace is eager to grow as a performer in such a place. The artistic spaces currently available on campus feel “spread out” to Kelly, with the theater, concert hall, and practice rooms all being hosted in separate buildings. For new performers, the Prior Center will be a true homebase to hone their craft and find camaraderie with like-minded individuals.
The significance of “She Loves Me” being the last of Holy Cross’ Fenwick musicals already makes it a can’t-miss event, but for those wondering about the show’s entertainment value, cast members say it’s sure to wow audiences. The show follows co-workers Amalia Balash and Georg Nowack (John Sullivan ‘22), who, while despising each other in person, are unaware that they’re secretly pen pals. Sadie explains that, despite taking place in the 1930s, it is filled with modern, relatable comedy. It’s a feel-good love story, with Mary Grace comparing it to a “Hallmark Christmas movie” in terms of its romance — just in time for Valentine’s Day. Sadie mentions there are a lot of hidden surprises in the show; there are numerous talented dancers in the class, so expect some intense moves — and maybe even some gymnastics! “She Loves Me” opens on Thursday, February 10. Be sure to go out and support!