Students get hands-on experience when musical kicks off national tour at Clemson
CLEMSON — Last year, it was ABBA. This year, Gershwin. No matter the show or composer, Clemson University performing arts students always get a first-rate, hands-on education when Work Light Productions brings a musical to town.
The Brooks Center for the Performing Arts continues its longstanding collaboration with Work Light when the Tony Award-winning musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It” takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29. Clemson students will be on the front lines helping get the production ready.
Set to the music of legendary American composer George Gershwin, “Nice Work” is the story of a wealthy playboy and the bubbly, feisty bootlegger who melts his heart in Roaring-Twenties New York. This lighthearted crowd-pleaser is features hits like “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Fascinating Rhythm.”
Through a relationship with Work Light Productions and its executive director, Steve Gabriel, the traveling show moves into the Brooks Center theater for two weeks in early August for technical rehearsals. They will rehearse the lighting, sound, cues, sets and performances to have everything ready before the show appears in theaters across the country.
Students in the production studies in performing arts program will get real-life experience by assisting throughout the entire process. They will help with such tasks as putting finishing touches on the sets, carrying cable and even assisting backstage during the performance.
“We are so excited to welcome Work Light Productions back to the Brooks Center,” said Brooks Center director Lillian Harder. “Our collaboration began in 2005, and this will be the eighth production the company has brought to Clemson to be worked on ‘in-tech.’
“This is a win-win situation for both the company and the Brooks Center,” she said. “Our performing arts students have the opportunity to work side by side with some of the most outstanding professionals in the industry, while the actors and crew get to experience rehearsals in our beautiful space. Many of our students have gone on to work on national and international tours with Work Light as a result of this collaboration.”
Work Light Productions has brought numerous family musicals to the Brooks Center, as well as larger-scale musicals like “Avenue Q” in 2009 and “In the Heights” in 2011. Last year, Work Light brought the hit musical “MAMMA MIA!”
“Our production studies majors will again have the unique opportunity to work with professional actors, designers, directors, producers and technicians as they prepare to launch a national theatrical tour,” said David Hartmann, chairman of the performing arts department. “This experience will not only be an educational one for our students, but the friendships and professional relationships forged during this process will help our students get a head start in the competitive world of working on live stage productions.
“In addition, several of our former majors are now gainfully employed on this musical, so it will be wonderful to welcome them back to the place where their careers began.”
“Nice Work If You Can Get It” will open its official national tour with the Brooks Center performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29.
Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for students. Tickets and information are available at www.clemson.edu/Brooks or by calling the box office at 864-656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.