Arts and Living Editor
Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts theater department is preparing “Working,” a new musical set to hit the Fine Arts Auditorium in the A.A. Fredericks Arts Center on April 21.
Written by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso and based on the Studs Terkel book “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” the musical was revised in 2012 with additions by artists such as Lin Manuel Miranda and James Taylor.
Pia Wyatt, professor of theater and dance and associate director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts is the director and choreographer of “Working.”
Wyatt will be working alongside musical director Dr. Grace Edgar and accompanist Daniel Ley.
“What we have found is the fact that it’s kind of perfect for what we’re dealing with right now, with the global pandemic, in the sense that we are so reliant on the everyday man,” Wyatt said.
Krislyn Mardis, senior theater major, has been working on the musical as the stage manager. Mardis oversees scheduling, designs and everything behind the stage.
“It’s an amazing show to be doing at this point in time. It’s all about the working class and how they work and how the economy can affect them and how some people, if they don’t have work, they’re just constantly searching to find something to keep them afloat,” Mardis said. “I think it’s going to resonate with a lot of people who have been let go in the past year or had to leave their job because they’re too prone to getting sick.”
Adele Hebert, senior theater major, is part of the cast of “Working.” Hebert is excited that the theater department is taking the necessary steps to return to normal.
“I have been involved in every step of the way, pretty much, since COVID. I was in the show that got shut down last year, and I was cast in the show that also got shut down when we came back in the fall, and then I was involved in ‘Ghoula,’ which was our cabaret-style virtual show, and now I’m in this show,” Hebert said.
“It’s very different. We’re masked, and we can’t hang out and bond and stuff like that,” Herbert said. “So we’re trying to make the most out of the situation, but I think we’re taking steps in the right direction to get as close to normal as possible.”
Jesse McFarland, senior theater major and cast member, is grateful that the rehearsal process for “Working” has gone so smoothly so far. “Working” has resonated with McFarland in a way that he did not expect.
“It’s funny, because at first you’re kind of just like, okay, it’s just a musical, pretty cookie cutter. But once we’ve gotten into it, it’s about a bunch of working people, and everyone has to work,” McFarland said. “It’s so relatable. Everyone can get something from somewhere in the musical. I think it’s great.”
Everyone involved in the production is excited to be putting on a live show again.
“I’ve watched a lot of plays and musicals over the past year through Zoom, or just recorded and then put out to the public, and it’s not the same thing,” Wyatt said.
“I can pause it, and I can go get a coffee, or I can pause it and I can go answer the phone, or my kid can come in and interrupt and it’s just not the same experience at all and I feel like a lot of people go to theater and dance and opera for the experience,” Wyatt said.
“Working” will be performed on April 21-22 and April 24 in A.A. Fredericks Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. for students, faculty and staff only.
On April 23-24, there will be a matinee at 2 p.m. for the public only.