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Last updateWed, 04 Dec 2019 3pm

Entertainment

Music and Theatre Arts Department is Working on Spring Musical

Typically when you try to contact anyone famous, they ignore you. If you’re Nicole Ricciardi, assistant professor of Music and Theatre Arts, they might get back to you immediately. At least that’s what happened when Ricciardi contacted Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz about doing the revised version of Working at the University this spring.

The original musical was written in 1978, making it a bit dated. It’s about how jobs affect and shape everyone’s lives, so the concept is still very much relevant. However, there were references and jobs that really don’t exist anymore. Ricciardi said, “I read it and I didn’t like it that much. I did some research and heard through the grapevine that Stephen Schwartz revised it, and that it had actually been produced last year in Chicago. […] On a whim I wrote to Stephen Schwartz and said this is the situation: I’ve committed to directing your show, I love the show, but I’d love to work on the newer version of the show.”

Schwartz’s office almost immediately contacted Ricciardi with much enthusiasm. They were completely on board with the idea of the revised version being performed at the University, but the revision wasn’t quite complete.

While it was performed in Chicago, that wasn’t necessarily the finished product. What Ricciardi was sent was sort of a mess. “[Schwartz’s office] warned me that they were going to send me a mess. I was so excited that I didn’t care. […] They literally photocopied the prompt book from the Chicago production and sent it to us without any explanation as to what a lot of things are. It’s like a puzzle: they took it apart, put it in a box, shook it up and sent it to us.”

While some would find that annoying or intimidating, Ricciardi said it was very exciting and sort of liberating. “That’s giving us a lot of freedom because we get to interpret things ourselves,” she said.

Aside from the inclusion of modern day technology, the play also includes jobs that didn’t exist when it was originally written. UPS delivery men and customer services representatives in India have been added in for the update.

Not only is the revision more modern, but it also has been cut down. Instead of the typical two and a half hours with intermission, Working now lasts only 90 minutes without intermission.

Ricciardi was particularly enthusiastic about the two new songs that have also been added, both of which are written by Tony award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights). Much of the soundtrack has remained intact and includes songs written by Schwartz, Grammy winner James Taylor, and a plethora of others.

Unlike most musicals, Working is nonfiction. All of the characters are based on actual people who have been interviewed about their jobs and these are their stories. Because the characters are real people, the play is relatable for anyone.

Student Sarah Clemency, one of the actresses in the show, said, “I think the students will be able to relate to the musical. It is all about different jobs. Some parts are about first jobs and how they are just trying to make ends meet. Some touch on the fact how bad the economy is right now and how hard it is to find jobs right out of college.”

Clemency doesn’t play just one part in the play, but four. She is one of six actors that share 26 parts. Clemency said, “It is challenging playing multiple characters. […] Each one has to be different so people don’t see Sarah playing a different character, but they see that character. It takes a lot of work.”

Taylor Bogan, Michael Rosas, Henry Siebecker, Jasmine Walker, and Brandon Weiner will be taking on the other 22 parts.

An ensemble cast, including Zoe Bullitt, Brooke McCarthy, Tristan Takacs and Kelly Thomas will provide background vocals and also function as a stage crew.

Maurice Moran, Production Associate and adjunct professor of Music and Theatre Arts, expressed his thoughts on having a musical like Working be performed on campus. “The Department of Music and Theatre is very excited about doing this newly revised version of Working. It’s really a wonderful musical celebrating the work people do to give meaning to their lives. And the fact that we are one of the first theatres to do this new show makes it even more thrilling. We’re hoping that students and the public will give a try to what is essentially a new musical that has not even been seen on Broadway.”

Working will be performed March 28-31 at 8:00 pm, April 1 at 3:00 pm, and April 5-8 at 8:00 pm in Woods Theatre. Tickets are available at the box office by calling 732-263-6889 or going to www.monmouth.edu/arts.

PHOTO COURTESY of Maurice Moran

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu