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The Restaurant : A New Musical From Off Off-Broadway

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at South Carolina chapter.

Members of Off Off-Broadway, a musical theater organization at the University of South Carolina, are hard at work getting ready to present an original contemporary musical this November.

The Restaurant: Millennial Commentary on Middle America is a humorous play that explores issues in American society through the lens of employees in a chain restaurant. Though often tongue-in-cheek and at times breaking the fourth wall, the musical sparks a genuine emotional connection and is sure to start many conversations about the nature of contemporary society. The Restaurant is an entirely new kind of production for Off Off-Broadway as it features a completely original script and songs written by one of the organization’s members.

“We have an amazingly talented writer, Tyler Quehl,” says Jewell Gorges, co-director of The Restaurant and vice president of Off Off-Broadway.

 “Typically in the past, we do revues, which incorporates an original script, but we jukebox together songs from already published musicals. Tyler, on the other hand, not only has written the script but has orchestrated the score, written the melodies and the lyrics all by himself. For a traditional musical that takes a huge team of people, so that by itself is a huge endeavor. And let me tell you, it sounds fantastic!”

Pre-production began early in the summer as Jewell, Tyler and co-director Natalie Fischer discussed their vision for the musical. Months later, the cast has completed learning the soundtrack and have begun blocking as the directors work with committee leaders to decide on costuming, lighting and sets.

“I am just excited for everyone to see the hard work put into this show and the originality of both the writer and the visions of the actors!”, says Natalie.

“We all know the struggle of at least one of the characters in this show. And, since it is a millennial commentary, the humor and stories of the characters are told right from the voices of people who go through the same thing, whether it be struggling to pass your classes, struggling to find your purpose or struggling to pay the bills.”

“Seeing real events that you’ve been through on stage through dialogue, dancing and singing is really what theatre is about and it’s what I love that about The Restaurant”, explains Jewell.

Both directors spoke to Her Campus SC about the impact they hope The Restaurant has on audiences. Natalie hopes it urges audiences to treat everyone, regardless of their background, with respect  “because no one knows what other people are going through”. Jewell wants audiences to walk away feeling encouraged to make their voices heard.

“We see throughout this show people feeling hopeless and like their voice can’t make a difference, and I see that being said time and time again in our country. I want this show to inspire people,” she continues. “…Even though changes don’t happen overnight, voting for what you believe and trying to make a difference can pay off in the end. And, for you to see if it does for our characters in The Restaurant, well you’ll just have to come to see the show!”

Off Off-Broadway was acclaimed for their production last semester of Into the Woods. The show was so popular that it completely sold out three out of four nights, forcing people to be turned away at the door due to the theater reaching maximum capacity.

Club president Nathan Markwood, a member of Off Off-Broadway for over three years and one of the co-stars of The Restaurant, called their previous production “extremely successful” and that it left the organization inspired and confident in their ability as a talented troupe.

“We have a lot of strong members going forward. We’ll only be getting stronger.”

The Restaurant: Millennial Commentary on Middle America will run at Benson Theater November 15 – November 18. Admission is free. For more information, visit Off Off-Broadway’s Facebook page.

Bri Hamlin

South Carolina '19

Hello, it's Bri (to the tune of Adele please). I am a senior at USC Columbia and am not currently thirty, flirty, and thriving, but twenty-one, anxious, and trying will sure do.