WBU theatre presents “Working”

November 18, 2014

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University will take a look at the job force in this week’s presentation of “Working,” a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso.

“Working” will take place in Wayland’s Black Box Theatre in the Harral arts complex at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Admission is $10 for adults and $4 for children. Tickets may be purchased online at www.wbu.edu click on the buy tickets now link at the bottom of the page.

Based on the book by Studs Terkel, “Working” looks at the lives of everyday working men and women and how they approach their jobs and what their jobs mean to them. Featuring music from the likes of Schwartz and James Taylor, individuals ranging from the corporate office to the cab of a truck are celebrated in genuinely humorous and touching ways. “Working” is heralded as the perfect musical for everyone who has ever worked a day in their lives.

Dr. Marti Runnels, WBU Director of Theatre, said this show is easily identifiable to everyone who attends.

“Everybody will see somebody they know in this show,” said Runnels who admits to connecting with the characters himself. “This has been a much more personal journey than I thought it would be when we picked it out.”

Runnels first encounter with “Working” the musical came during his time at Texas Tech as a doctoral student in the 1980s. He was familiar with Terkel’s book, but had never seen the show. After seeing it, “Working” was always in the back of his mind, so when Dr. Brian Kuhnert, Assistant Professor of Opera and Musical Theatre, suggested it as the fall musical, Runnels was easily convinced.

Runnels and Kuhnert are collaborating on the production, along with Professor of Music Composition Dr. Gary Belshaw, who serves as the rehearsal accompanist and will be in the production orchestra, and Samantha Templar, head coach of the WBU dance team, who is choreographing the production. Associate Professor of Theatre Mark Kirk is the set and scene designer.

Runnels said people will be surprised by the content of the play as Schwartz takes Terkel’s work and weaves into an entertaining show with some unexpected insight into the working man.

“If people think that they are going to come in here and basically hear a bunch of people whine and moan, it’s not that at all,” Runnels said. “There are a lot of people who have what you and I might think are bottom of the rung kid of jobs, things that we would never want to do, but they love what they do. They are passionate about what they do. They wouldn’t do anything else no matter what it paid.”

The opposite of that, and what Runnels calls “some of the scariest stuff” in the musical, is the vantage point taken by the corporate giants and how they view capitalism and the world.

While Terkel’s book looks at 100s of individuals, the Schwartz musical features only 36 characters, played by 12 actors for the WBU production. It is also the first production since Wayland began its Bachelor of Fine Arts program which focuses on musical theatre. All students enrolled in the B.F.A. program are involved in the production.

Zachary Fisher will perform the roles of Rex Winship, Anthony Coelho, Ralph Werner and Joe Zutty. Omar Hernandez will perform as Freddy Rodriquez, Raj Chadha, Mason, Utkarsh Trajillo and Charlie Blossom. The parts of Mike Dillard, Eddie Jaffe, Frank Decker and Tom Patrick will be played by Joshua Walters. Jaden Pena will play Cubicle Man 2 and Allen Epstein; Jonathan Trevino will play Conrad Swibel; and Cubicle Man 1 will be played by Alejandro Olivares.

In the women’s roles, Kaileigh Boas will take on the parts of Sharon Atkins, Grace Clements and Theresa Liu. Brittany Acosta will play Amanda McKenny, Kate Rushton and Maggie Holmes. Haley Bonner will play Rose Hoffman, Candy Cottingham and Delores Dante. Ashlee Elizabeth Taylor will play Terry Mason and Cubicle Woman 3. Leticia Rodriguez will perform as Roberta Victor, and Tammy Brooks will play the role of Cubicle Woman 1.

Several members of the cast will also perform as the shows chorus.