Junior Sanjna Kalisetty Performs “Be More Chill” with The Junior Players

Jin Huang

Junior Sanjna Kalisetty starred as Christine Canigula in the Junior Players’ professional musical production “Be More Chill” with the shows on from January 5th to 8th.

Upper School Drama and Theatre Teacher Valerie Hauss-Smith introduced Kalisetty to the Junior Players, as she used to direct shows there. The Junior Players is an organization that puts on various free plays and musicals throughout the year to provide accessible programs to everyone.

“[Be More Chill] was not the first show I did with [the Junior Players],” said Kalisetty. “My first show with them was ‘Twelfth Night’, which was a Shakespeare rock musical.”

Kalisetty says her positive experience with “Twelfth Night” sparked her interest in the winter musical production, “Be More Chill”.

“I listened to the soundtrack a lot, so I was very familiar with the music. I also read character descriptions to familiarize the way the characters interact with each other,” she said.

Kalisetty’s well prepared audition secured her spot as Christine Canigula, the female lead. She says she made a strong connection with Christine.

“I think there are a lot of similarities between Christine and I, just because we both love theater and performing,” said Kalisetty. “Chrstine is a very kind girl, and we both march to the beat of our own drums.”

With a delay due to COVID-19, the rehearsal process of “Be More Chill” started in Fall 2022, but the actual performance got postponed to the beginning of 2023.

“What really helped me was my cast,” said Kalisetty. “[Especially] with how long the rehearsal process was.”

Kalisetty says that although the rehearsal environment was quite negative, when the new assistant director took over the show from the original crew, things took a turn for the better.

“[The new assistant director] was really great about being supportive,” said Kalisetty. “He really considered our feedback and pointed us in a good direction.”

After almost a year of rehearsing, the opening night of “Be More Chill” finally arrived on January 5th. Kalisetty prepared herself before the show by doing jumping jacks while listening to her favorite show.

“I also used a Listerine strip because I had to kiss someone on the cheek,” said Kalisetty.

Kalisetty’s friend Alex Peplinski, who described Kalisetty as a very outgoing and friendly person, went to watch the musical live to support her.

“[Kalisetty] is a very flexible actress, [and] she can really do a great job with any character,” said Peplinski. “I think the [entire “Be More Chill” cast] did a really good job. They are all incredible actors and dancers.”

Kalisetty recalled her experience in “Big Fish”, the Greenhill 2022 fall musical production, to compare it with “Be More Chill”. The sense of community built during the introductory period can really affect the final show outcome.

“[When] the actors trust each other and the natural chemistry that comes with it, there’s just so much to do with that in a musical,” said Kalisetty. “The last thing you want to worry about is do [you] feel comfortable acting alongside this person.”