By Eva Truncellito
Nicky Singer, a senior English and secondary education double major, decided that taking a lead role in the staged reading of her original one-act musical Mixing Bowls this Saturday would be pushing things too far. After all, she not only wrote the show and composed the music for it, but she is also directing and running all technical elements for the production.
The event will showcase Rider students and staff in a show that Singer developed over the last year as an independent study project. Jenny Scudder, assistant director of the Student Success Center, plays the part of the narrator. Five Rider students fill out the cast: Alexa Lauri, a senior theater major; Aleaha Jones, a sophomore speech and interpersonal communications major; Ethan Levy, a sophomore theater major; Travis Przybylski, a sophomore musical theater major and Dani Pierce, a freshman musical theater major.
Singer said it’s hard to explain what Mixing Bowls is about, but described it as an ensemble piece because it does not focus on one main character, but instead on multiple people who develop equally throughout the story.
“This is a play about a family bakery where everything gets mixed up: from relationships of the characters to the expectations of the audience,” she said. “It shows how they react when tragedy hits and how it affects their relationships and futures in the upcoming year.”
Singer started writing the script as a full-length play. After several readings she decided it would work better as a musical.
“One week and five original songs later, Mixing Bowls was born,” Singer said. “This experience helped me to realize how much not only a piece of art, but an artist, can evolve in such a short amount of time.”
Singer said that the audience should expect the unexpected. She notes that although the show could be seen as an anti-musical, she prefers to look at it as a challenge of certain preconceptions and misconceptions of musical theater.
“This is not your grandparents’ musical or even your parents’ musical,” Singer said. “This is a smart and sassy musical that forces you to reconsider what you fit into the mold of this genre. There is a jingle, a punk rock song by a middle-aged mother and a song that is half sung and half spoken that means nothing about what it is called.”
Singer explained that a staged reading is part of the developmental process of a new play. There will be refreshments and a talkback with the audience after each of the two performances to discuss the play and help it evolve. The actors will perform mostly with scripts and a bare set; however, several scenes for Saturday’s performances will be fully staged and without scripts.
Singer explained that the play was written solely for acoustic guitar. In the script, one of the characters plays the guitar onstage for all songs. However, on Saturday, musical director Brent Johnson, a local musician in the rock band The Clydes, will be playing the guitar. The stage manager is Jennifer Moore, a senior liberal studies major and continuing studies student.
“The play is witty, sassy, smart and I think people should come out to see it with an open mind,” Moore said. “It is a different spin on traditional musicals so having no expectations allows the audience to really set into the play and grab ahold of the characters, the songs and the message.”
This past summer, Singer was the head of a theater program in Hillsborough, N.J., at the Allegra School of Music and Arts, a music school for children and teens. She will be acting in Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced this January at Somerset Valley Playhouse in Hillsborough.
The Spitz Theater, located in Fine Arts, will host both performances of Mixing Bowls on Saturday, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The staged reading is free and open to both Rider students and the public, although Singer notes that the show contains mature material that may be inappropriate for children.
Printed in the 11/30/12 edition