‘Single Wide’ Musical Debuts First Full Production at BYU

New toe-tapping musical makes its BYU debut following an acclaimed, sold-out run at the New York Musical Festival After traveling to New York and making headlines on hypable.com as one of the 10 Best Broadway Shows of 2015, “Single Wide” returns home to Provo for its collegiate premiere as a fully-mounted production. This new musical debuts on March 23 and runs through April 7 in the Pardoe Theatre. Department of Theatre and Media Arts professor and playwright George Nelson started working on “Single Wide” five years ago. The BYU Music Dance Theatre program workshopped and performed a version of “Single Wide” before it received the high honor of being selected to perform at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF).  There, the production went through several changes including a new director. “It was very successful.” said director and choreographer Megan Sanborn Jones. “It won the most awards of any performance at the festival that year. I think every actor got an award. At that point, my question as the artistic director of the season was, ‘Why haven’t we done this yet? Why aren’t we doing our own finest work?’” Although “Single Wide” had a set and professional actors at the NYMF, this is the first time it has had a full set. The title refers to a type of trailer home, and the TMA Department installed four authentic, full-sized single wide trailers on the Pardoe stage for the setting of this production. “Here at BYU we rarely get the chance to see people on stage whose lives are quite different than our own,” said Jones, “and we are thrilled to celebrate the lives of people who are not like the average BYU student. Our cast is very diverse. These characters in the play are poor and racially diverse. They don’t dress like us, they don’t talk like us. But they are like us. They are people who love their kids. They are people who want to achieve their dreams. They are people who are trying to be kind to one another.” “Single Wide” features a woman named Katy who lives in a trailer park in Texas surrounded by other women in similar circumstances. She is a single mother who lives with her own mom while raising a son. Katy wants to make her life better, she wants to achieve the American Dream — to get out of the trailer park and experience new things — as does every woman in the trailer park. The story depicts a one-week time period when things are truned upside down when a male Afghanistan war veteran moves into the trailer park. The change helps the women articulate their hopes, dreams and fears and reevaluate their relationships, friendships and hopes for romance. “He’s the catalyst,” said Jones, “but really it’s the story of these powerful women, particularly Katy, who is a good mom and wants to do even better. ‘Single Wide’ is heartwarming, it’s funny, and features toe-tapping music. Because it’s set in Texas, the music has a country vibe to it. We’re calling it a country fried smash. It’s even our hashtag for the show — #CountryFriedSmash. You leave the musical being able to hum along to the songs you heard because they are so catchy.” This highly collaborative production features music and lyrics by commercial music alum Jordan Kamalu as well as additional lyrics by Nelson. Jones said Kamalu has been able to listen to the cast and has reworked the musical to create new songs for this particular production. When going through the casting process, Jones wanted actors and actresses who were strong vocalists, but she also sought for those who could embody the characters of “Single Wide” in a respectful and celebratory way. Jones said, “We were looking for very fine actors who could be more complicated than stereotypes, and that’s what we found. We were so fortunate. I was intentionally looking for racial diversity as well. From the beginning, I intended for a cast of at least two women of color and we got three; and our male lead is Latino. “I’m a powerful supporter of stories that tell the lives of women in real ways, not demeaning, superficial or stereotypical ways; real women doing real things in real life. These women are funny, smart, mixed-up and make bad decisions. Then they do better. The musical is all about hope and forgiveness. The experience has been great because we have a cast that is committed to that vision.” Jones highlighted that both the cast and crew are mainly comprised of women. They were given the opportunity to work with Nelson. Having the playwright participate in rehearsals has allowed him and the cast to see a vision of the show in full production. The production has tried as much as possible to realistically create the world Nelson imagined and the people in it. Jones praises the set and props crew because they have done an outstanding job at making this world come alive. When a character in the play makes her famous French toast for breakfast, the actors are actually eating French toast on the stage. “Single Wide” is an entirely student-run production, except for mentoring positions filled by faculty. The costume, prop and lighting designers as well as the actors, stage manager, two assistant directors and assistant dramaturg are all students; and Kamalu was a student when he composed the music and lyrics. “Everyone loves ‘new Broadway.’” said Jones. “‘Hamilton,’ ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.’ Well this is new. This is it. This is how it starts. This may turn out to be someone’s brand-new favorite musical. If audiences don’t come they’ll never know, so I hope everyone who loves musicals will come see Single Wide so they can be at the cutting edge of new musicals in America.” A video featuring the NYMF “Single Wide Musical Highlights” provides a sneak peek at what audiences can expect to see in “Single Wide.” An American Sign Language-interpreted performance will be held on March 29, and post-performance discussions will take place on March 29 and April 5. Tickets and Show Details Performance Dates and Times: March 23-24, 27–30, April 3–7, 7:30 p.m. | March 24, April 7, 2:00 p.m. Location: Pardoe Theatre, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University Price: $9-17 Tickets: Available in person at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone at 801-422-2981 or online at byuarts.com[vc_row][vc_column][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” images=”10641,10642,10643,10647,10646,10645,10644″][/vc_column][/vc_row]