Presenting, ‘The Pocket Girls’ by Lizzie Hilliard: The story of the original musical
Elizabeth Hilliard ’22 is a singer and songwriter, and now she has officially added writer, creator, and actress to her accomplishments. Elizabeth, who goes by Lizzie, created and wrote the musical “The Pocket Girls,” which tells the story of two sets of sisters and the experiences they have in a small cottage. The musical explores femininity and sisterhood and the bonds they all create. It is a coming of age story inspired by books like “Little Women,” “The Secret Garden,” and “Anne of Green Gables.” While Lizzie has been exposed to music from a young age, she has been writing and creating her own music for over ten years.
In a Zoom interview with the Justice on May 19, she explained that her interest in creating this musical was based on taking full advantage of the resources Brandeis offers for her senior thesis. The Senior Thesis Program requires a proposal of a project, production, or art form that explores the thesis inquiry. It is authentically an act of discovery, and through that process Brandeis guides students with access to spaces for practicing and rehearsing as well as research. She submitted her proposal in April of last year, “But,” she says, “it changed so much.” She officially started writing in late August up until auditions were posted, but even through rehearsals and read-throughs, changes were being made. She explained that during rehearsals when the cast would do read-throughs, they would make small changes to songs and character development and even explore new places to add more musical scores. For instance, Lizzie explained that the “Scary Social Worker” song would not have been possible or even thought of without the involvement of the cast members. “It was collaborative in an accidental way,” Lizzie remarks, even though she was initially expecting this project to be more isolated and individual.
When asked about the effect of COVID-19 during the creating and actual showing of her musical, she explained that there was always a sense of uncertainty. She went on to recount how when the show opened April 29 at 9 p.m. in the Laurie Theater, unfortunately both Lizzie and another lead actress were close-contacted, which affected the show and each actor’s performance because they were masked. Lizzie admits, “This is how it is going to be for a while in the world of theater,” and being prepared is extremely important because “something could go wrong at the last second and you have to adjust.” For fun, we asked what the top favorite songs were for this musical, and Lizze did not disappoint with “The Way Things Always Used To Be” because it is up-beat and fun, and “Scary Social Worker” because it is a bop and extremely hilarious.
Regarding the future of her musical, she says while it was just for fun, she also wanted “to make it as easy as possible to reproduce.” She is open to any future productions of her musical, whether it “is a small cast at a university or giant production, tons of costumes and sets … it could definitely go in a lot of directions.” And as for her future, she is excited to continue in the arts, whether that is on stage, or off as a writer. “I just want to do everything,” Lizzie said. “ I initially want to go into acting, but I also don’t want to ever stop writing.” For all the creative people out there who are interested in creating and writing, Lizzie says “take advantage of the resources Brandeis has to offer.” She admits she was aware of the Getts Media Lab, but she did not use “the sound studio to record music even though it is literally free.” Her most important piece of advice is “always be open to asking for help and collaborating with others is really valuable.”