For Elle Shaheen ’21, being part of the first group of women cast in a Hasty Pudding Theatricals production felt like getting accepted into Harvard a second time.
“It sparked that exact same feeling of utter excitement, joy, and relief after lots of intensely hard work,” said the sophomore from Portsmouth, N.H., who is studying Theater, Dance & Media.
This year marked the first in the group’s 171-year history that women took the stage as part of the Hasty Pudding cast. Six men and six women make up this year’s onstage talent in the original student musical “France France Revolution!” The group performs on campus through March 10 before taking the show to New York City March 15 and 16 and to Bermuda for three spring break shows.
“The talent is through the roof,” said first-time director Larry Sousa, who cast male performers to play roles of both genders and women to do the same.
“France France Revolution!” tells the love story of a butcher and a princess who meet during the February Revolution of 1848. Ashley LaLonde ’20 plays the leading role of ingénue Theresa Sparkinme.
“It’s historic and I think the quality of the show is top-notch,” said LaLonde, who acts professionally and has done five shows at the American Repertory Theater in the past two years. “It’s so cool to be part of literally the oldest theater group in the country and to be part of a show that has a huge legacy. I feel so lucky to be one of the first women. It’s a very special moment in history.”
LaLonde earned the honor of being the first woman to sing the show-stopping Act II number called “Head of Heels,” a ballad that’s the turning point in the show.
“It’s incredible to have a professional opportunity for collegiate performing artists that mirrors the professional world,” she said. “For me, that’s one of the most exciting aspects of being part of the cast.”