Winter Musical “Working” Debuts with Performance, Technical Innovations

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
From the cast to the crew, all members of the St. Andrew’s Players had to learn new parts this year, going from stage performers and backstage maestros to virtual actors, artists, and editors, culminating in the highly technical and creative production of this year’s Upper School winter musical, “Working.”
"Working" is based on oral historian Studs Terkel's book of interviews with American workers. The show debuted in 1978 with songs by Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor, among others, and in 2012 received an update at the hands of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In order to produce “Working,” the cast and the crew leaned into technology that could bring them together at a distance. For the 22-member cast, that technology was BandLab, an online music program that allowed performers to record their audio takes within the same project file.

For the crew, which was divided into an art team and a video team, that meant editing the show recordings collaboratively using Premiere Pro. Capturing the recordings would not have been possible without Walker Borgmann '22, who established a partnership with the developers behind Rivet, a remote streaming broadcast tool, and, with their technology and support, created the ability to do a streamed cast recording.

Outside help was brought in to make the show shine, from choreographer Lynn Schaeber and composer Will Arundell to alumna Leia Terrenzi ’20, who directed the video team as the show’s lead video editor.

The show’s emphasis on spotlighting individual characters created an opportunity for many scenes to be safely recorded on campus. Actors performed in front of a green screen; the art team replaced the screens with original backdrops, and, thanks to the magic of editing, the video team was able to create the illusion of multiple cast members appearing in a scene.

Technical director Ben Zastrow and music director Jordan Yonce agreed that the students’ vocal performances in “Working” are exceptional.

“One of the advantages of doing what we’ve done is that, when actors and musicians are doing their audio recording, they can concentrate on their vocal or instrumental performance, as opposed to that and blocking and choreography and stage fright, all rolled into one,” Zastrow said.

“It’s been a strong year leading into next year,” Yonce said regarding the talent of the St. Andrew’s Players. “[Our production of “Working”] is pretty exceptional in terms of vocal talent and I’m excited to see what the final product looks like.”

Students new to St. Andrew’s and the St. Andrew’s Players said that they felt welcomed by their peers and enjoyed creating the show.

“Everything from the choreography to the technology used in the editing and recording of the play was well-coordinated, and most importantly, it was super fun!” said Kamdi Oguchi ‘24, who plays the roles of cleaning lady Maggie Holmes, Housewife, and Cubicle Worker. “Despite the pandemic stress, the process was super smooth, especially considering that we did all the practices and most of the recordings remotely.”

“To me, it meant a lot to be included in this year's musical, and to have the chance to meet new friends, and to be able to meet the musical staff,” said Gabriel Martinez ‘24, who plays the roles of fast food worker Freddy Rodriguez, elder care worker Utkarsh Trajillo, student Ralph Werner, and Millworker. “It gave me a taste of what the experience could be like in person.”

Senior members of the St. Andrew’s Players were grateful for the opportunity to perform in once final show, even though they could not act, sing, or dance with an ensemble on the MacDonald Hall stage.

“Being a part of this year's musical means a lot to me, not only because I am a senior and this is the last year I have a chance to participate in the musical at St. Andrew's, but also because I feel like the winter will not be complete without the musical,” said Annie Li ‘21, who plays the roles of stone mason Anthony Coelho and nanny Theresa Liu. “I am so glad that I can have this chance to express myself and learn new things.”

“Knowing that this would be my last time performing with these guys made me feel sad, but also encouraged me to make this the best show,” said Kyle Boozer ‘21, who plays the roles of interstate trucker Frank Decker and fireman Tom Patrick. “Doing recording and rehearsals at home was a little complicated, but being together with my theater friends, even if it was virtual, was so much fun.”

“Working” debuts at 7:30 p.m. March 19. Admission to the virtual show is free. The performance will be available to view on demand after the broadcast. Click here to access the show link: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/48262
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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.