By Kensey Mayer
South Plains College Theater Department gets ready to open their spring musical, “Working,” under the direction of Dr. Dan Nazworth and Dr. Debbie Gelber, for the last week of March.
While building the sets on the Helen Devitt Theater’s stage, Dan Nazworth, the director of the college’s musical, discusses details on their show. During the 1970’s, Studs Terkel, a writer for the Chicago journal, interviewed about 200 people asking about their work, and based on their responses, he wrote a book. Ten years later, Stephen Schwartz and others adapted the book into a musical. The version that SPC will be taking on is the third revised edition.
“It is interesting in that if you read some of the original monologues, you are shocked at just how much life has changed in the last 50 years, and then you read some of them and are sad that some things haven’t changed,” said Nazworth.
Rehearsals for the musical are already underway, and so is the design aspect for the set. The cast rehearses five days a week, Sunday through Thursday, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nazworth said these times are set so that everyone can make it to the rehearsals after school and work. The cast and crew will speed up rehearsal times after spring break, when they will rehearse every night until the show opens.
“Right now, we are at the point of ‘Oh my God, is it going to come together?’ which is usually about this time, while we start to get off book and have the songs memorized,” Nazworth said.
Nazworth quotes a line from “Shakespeare in Love” to address his feelings on their rehearsal status so far, saying “How is this going to work? Well, I don’t know, it’s a mystery.”
Nazworth explains that this show would not be possible, without the help of his co-director, Dr. Debbie Gelber. Gelber is the music director for the show and works with the actors on perfecting the songs within the script.
“It’s a collaboration… she talked me into it,” said Nazworth. “I just wouldn’t do theater without Debbie. We have the same general philosophy about what theater is, so we never have to argue about anything because we agree on everything before we even talk about it.”
This will be their sixth show working together. Helping them is Annie Nichols-Burge, who helps coach some of the actors vocally, so they are prepared for the show.
Dr. Nazworth explained what theater means to him, as he believes that he and Dr. Gelber see eye-to-eye on this aspect.
“Theater is the opportunity for people to understand what it is to be a human,” said Nazworth. “There are not many instruction manuals on how to be human, and one of the things theater can do is show you different viewpoints and ways of thinking that allows you to better understand the other person, because the other person is the one we are always afraid of. Once you realize the other person is just as scared as you are, things tend to get better. In this day and age of electronics, sharing the same space as somebody else breathing is a unique thing. And…of course for entertainment.”
The show opens Thursday, March 31, and goes through April 3. The curtain opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a matinee performance Sunday. The cost for tickets is still to be determined but they will be available to purchase online and open to the public.
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