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ASU Theatre’s ‘Nickel and Dimed’ set to open Friday

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 17:09

nickel and dimed

ASU Theater Department

Want to know what life as a minimum wage worker is like? The ASU Theatre Department will host the opening of the play “Nickel and Dimed,” which describes just that, at 7 p.m. Friday in the Black Box Theatre.

The play is based on true events from the book by Barbara Ehrenreich, in which an upper-middle-class woman goes undercover and takes on various minimum wage jobs to report on the life of the lower class.

“Barbara goes undercover in three different cities,” said Jeff McLaughlin, stage director and assistant professor of theater. “She gets a job in all the cities earning low wages to see if she could make it as a single woman and to see what effect the 1996 Welfare Reform Act was having on the working-class people.”

McLaughlin, who has not directed in six years, has several reasons for choosing Nickel and Dimed.

“I have directing experience, and we think it’s a good idea for students to work under different direction; so I was asked to direct a play,” he said. “I chose this play for a handful of reasons. It’s topical. Just about everyone in the cast has said things that happen in the play have happened to them, and it has a lot of interesting challenges.”

McLaughlin said the play is both serious and funny, and that he feels ASU students will really enjoy it.

“A lot of students can relate to it,” Jordan Phillips, a junior fine arts major with an emphasis in acting of El Dorado, and a character in the play, said. “A lot of college students work low-wage jobs, and it provides interesting perspective to how hard life is and how bad these people are treated.”

Alaina Rene Kizer, a freshman theater major of Conway, said, “It’s a good ensemble; there’s not really a weak character. Everyone plays at least one person who has their moment.”

Auditions for the play were Aug. 24, and practices began Aug. 27. The cast and crew have rehearsed every night since.

Madison Kuebler, a senior theatre major of Searcy, was awarded the lead role as Barbara.

“She is a strong-willed woman who is very determined to show the world how over 30 percent of Americans get by - or don’t get by,” she said. “I hope everyone gets a chance to come see this show. It’s very important, and I think it will open a lot of people’s eyes the way it did mine.”

The remainder of the cast includes Morgan Carvell, a freshman theater major of Bentonville; Marina Pearson, a sophomore theater major of Conway; Sarah Ring, a sophomore theater major of Cabot; Tyler Garstka, a senior theater major of Cabot; Brooke Thomas, a freshman theater major of Jonesboro; Dylan Worth, a freshman theater major of Cabot; and Dru Ergle, a sophomore theater major of Jonesboro.

Ergle said, “Everyone but Madison plays various parts. In fact, all the girls but one play a guy at some point.”

“I think students will really enjoy it,” Pearson said. “It’s dramatic, but has many funny parts.”

Tonae Mitsuhashi, a senior theatre design and technology major of Mie, Japan, is in charge of scenic design for the play.

“We started working on the design in July, and I finished making a model by the first day of class,” she said. “I chose the colors and symbols based on the seriousness of the play and the fact that it deals a lot with economics, the poor and money.”

“Nickel and Dimed” will also show at 2 p.m. Sunday, and at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The opening show is already sold out, and McLaughlin expects the same for the remaining performances in the Black Box Theatre, which holds about 130 people.

He said, “I think we will sell out every night in here, and if not, it will be really close.”

Tickets may be purchased in advance for $8 at the Convocation Central Box Office or $10 at the door, if there are seats available. Tickets are also available online at


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