Hailed as one of the 10 Best Broadway shows of 2015 after its sold-out run at the New York Musical Festival, “Single Wide” is coming home to BYU for its debut as a fully-staged production.
Featuring the original work of BYU theatre and media arts professor and playwright George Nelson, the country musical tells the story of a group of women who live in a trailer park, striving to better their situations. In trailer park hierarchy, the size of your housing matters and the lowest ranking unit is a single-wide trailer.
“Throughout my life, I’ve seen so many people whose lives have been trashed by other people,” Nelson said. “They get used up, thrown away and the person believes they’re not worth anything. These characters are good people, struggling with really terrible situations.”
Nelson started working on “Single Wide” five years ago with the help of then-commercial music student Jordan Kamalu. The BYU music dance theatre program workshopped the show before its award-winning test in New York.
“It was very successful.” said director and choreographer Megan Sanborn Jones. “It won the most awards of any performance at the festival that year. 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?’”
Now at BYU, “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, providing a rare experience to create a piece of theater that will be available to the masses following the BYU run.
“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."
The premiere production features a live band on stage, four full-size single-wide trailers for a set and an underdog message that will resonate with audiences.
“We all struggle with self-worth and trying to understand where we fit into this world,” said Nelson. “We’re all about the underdog. We’re all about individuals who can latch on to the idea of redemption and seek for a better life.”
“Single Wide” debuts March 23 and runs through April 7 in the Pardoe Theatre. Tickets range from $9–17 and can be purchased at the BYU Ticket Office or by calling 801-422-2981.