NESCom’s ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION degree program proudly announces the launch of the new Gracie Black Box Theatre! This is a flexible workshop performance space that has been created in the Rehearsal Hall of the Gracie Theatre. This new facility will have its premiere with workshop performances of WORKING – THE MUSICAL on April 26 – 27.
The musical play is based upon Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, a 1974 nonfiction book by the noted oral historian and radio broadcaster Studs Terkel. It is an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people in all walks of life: from Mike Dillard, the iron worker to Dolores the waitress, from the business executive to the housewife to the hooker. The narratives move constantly between mundane details, emotional truths and existential questioning.
Adapted for the stage by Stephen Schwartz (who has written countless musical adaptations from Disney Films to Broadway’s WICKED) and Nina Faso in 1974, the show contains songs written by Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Mikki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead and James Taylor. The musical takes the interviews collected by Terkel and sets them to music, interspersed with monologues which reveal what it is like to be a “working stiff” in America. The show celebrates the dedication and determination of the American worker. This may be summed up by lyrics in the finale: “Everyone should have something to point to… something to be proud of!”
This workshop production grew out of the curiculum of specific Entertainment Production and Live Sound classes. The Acting II class rehearsed the music, choreography and acting scenes once a week for 7 weeks. The Fundamentals of Lighting class created the lighting design and hung, focused and cued the show as a part of this past month’s classwork. The Live Sound Lab students were given the challeges of rigging and mixing a live theatrical performance in an “acoustically-challenged” space and learning the brand new skill sets demanded by live theatre. All of this is the classic definition of a “workshop”.
But one might ask… “Why not do this show in the Gracie on the big stage?” To paraphrase an observation from Thom Johnston, President of NESCom… “The Gracie is a cruise ship. Sometimes all you need is a rowboat.” Sometimes small is beautiful. A year ago, a Lighting Lab System was installed in this space to facilitate the Fundamentals of Lighting and Advanced Lighting classes. It made the instruction and demonstration of the lighting equipment more immediate and more accessible. The same benefit can apply to a performance. The Gracie Black Box Theatre is a place to experiment… a place to take chances… a place to grow. WORKING will be performed on Friday and Saturday, April 26 & 27 at 7:30PM and on Sunday, April 28 at 2:00PM in the Gracie Black Box Theatre. The Black Box Theatre is located on the 2nd floor of the Gracie Theatre, and is easily accessed through the Atrium. General Admission tickets are available at the door, one half hour before each performance. Ticket prices are $5.00, Regular Admission and $3.00 for Students.