Morgan Park Academy rising senior Hailey Brisard is among 40 high school students statewide selected to perform in this year’s all-state production of the musical “Aida.”

The show will be performed at the 45th annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival January 9-11, 2020, at Illinois State University.

The Illinois Theatre Association’s annual event is the nation’s largest and oldest non-competitive high school festival, and draws 4,000 students, teachers, industry representatives, exhibitors and volunteers each year for productions and workshops.

Hailey, a veteran of several MPA stage productions and the Musical Theater Intensive at the Goodman Theatre, will spend the next several months rehearsing with a company of students and teachers from all over the state. She has been cast as part of the ensemble and the understudy for Nehebka, one of the principal roles.


Congratulations! What do you think about this opportunity?

Getting the opportunity to be a part of this production is really exciting. A few of my friends that do theatre outside of MPA did it last year and in previous years. After watching behind-the-scenes videos and hearing participants talk about the experience I knew I had to audition. I thought it was really cool that I get to meet people from all around Illinois who live either 30 minutes or four hours from me who are all passionate about the same thing.

Students Acting

What do you think about “Aida” and your role in particular?

Aida” is one of my favorite musicals. The show has a very powerful and important message: Love has no boundaries. This show brings up the challenges of prejudice, injustice, and division. These themes are very relevant in our world today and I believe it is important that these issues are recognized and shown in art of all forms. Even though this show takes place in Ancient Egypt the social issues it mentions are very important and reflect the times.

I am very excited to be a part of the ensemble and to understudy Nehebka. Being in the ensemble allows for more creative freedom. You get to create your own character because there isn’t any context from the script. You get to use your imagination and decide how your character moves through the world and come up with all the little quirks about them yourself. That is something that is very limited when you get a big role. You get to be creative, but only to a certain extent. I am excited to learn cool dance numbers and figure out how my character moves through life.

How has your theatre experience at MPA and elsewhere prepared you for this?

The first experience that helped me prepare for this experience was the Musical Theater Intensive I participated in at the Goodman Theatre for two summers. It really helped me figure out that musical theatre was my passion. I learned how to collaborate with others to create a story and I gained more confidence in myself and my abilities.

At MPA, many shows helped me grow, but two shows here that really helped were “Little Women” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” I learned from “Little Women” (pictured below) that no matter what happens that the show must go on. Many things didn’t go as planned but learning to roll with it and keep going was probably one of the most important lessons I learned. In “Drood” (pictured above), I learned how to always be in the scene and react to the other characters. I learned the importance of ensemble and how you have to take care of every actor in the show. Everyone is important and has something important to contribute.

What will it be like juggling intensive rehearsals in Carol Stream, Illinois, with the rest of your life from August through January?

It will be hard to juggle rehearsals and the commute with school work and the college application process, but I believe that it will all be worth it. My goal is to study musical theatre in college and to become a working actor either in the Midwest or New York. I am excited to meet new people from all across Illinois who are as passionate about theatre as I am, and to work on an amazing show that is so relevant to our world today.

Students Acting