BY CAITLIN LEIKER
FHSU’s Music and Theatre Department will host this year’s musical, Promises, Promises, in Felton-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall this weekend.
The Tony-winning musical (music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David and a book by Neil Simon) was based on The Apartment, a 1960s movie by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond.
Chuck Baxter, a low-level insurance worker, secretly lends out his apartment on the Upper West Side to be used for the company bosses’ extramarital affairs. He uses this under-the-table advantage to climb the corporate ladder, all in an attempt to woo Fran Kubelik, a waitress in the company cafeteria.
One of the challenges with this year’s musical was obtaining more male performers.
“It means that we really have to double-up on stuff,” Director Tomme Williams said, referring to the way single actors will be playing multiple roles. One ensemble member will be covering six different parts in Promises, Promises.
Nathan Leiker, who plays Baxter, said that people should come to see the show in the name of comedy and jazz.
Rebecca Anderson, cast as Kubelik, said that Promises, Promises also “has some deep and tender moments that make a person smile.”
“My favorite part of rehearsal has probably been getting to spend all of my time around everyone, and getting to see how far I’ve come as a performer,” Anderson said.
She has also enjoyed helping out newer members of the cast – “It’s a really eye-opening experience to become this kind of leader among freshmen and those who are learning,” Anderson said.
Eric Adams will play the no-nonsense company manager, J.D. Sheldrake, whom Baxter tries to cozy up to for a possible promotion.
For Adams, the most interesting part of the show has been seeing his father – Paul Adams, dean of the College of Education and professor of Physics – rehearsing alongside the students.
“Since we’re never on stage together, I get to watch him,” Eric said. “It’s been interesting. He says his voice hasn’t been that great, but he’s absolutely downplaying himself. He sounds fantastic, and his line delivery is incredible. It’s a joy watching him.”
Paul Adams, currently 61 years old, has enjoyed the energy and excitement of his castmates in their 20s. He said it’s been “enlightening,” seeing how dedicated the students are, also joking about their “tolerance” of a professor in the musical, too.
His last time on stage was over 40 years ago, as he balanced wrestling in college with occasional non-singing roles in theatre productions for fun. However, Paul will indeed be singing in Promises, Promises.
“It has proven to be a challenge…but as my kids told me, I could shout in tune,” he said. “In some ways, it’s connected me to Eric, and I’ve enjoyed listening to him and watching him. As he’s pointed out, ‘Dad, it’s like I’ve aged 40 years…I’ve found out that I speak a little bit like you.”’
Getting back into theatre has also connected Paul to his older son, David, who was also involved in theatre through high school and his time at Fort Hays.
“It’s kind of like a 1960s version of How to Succeed in Business [Without Really Trying], which is 1950s,” Williams said. “He’s kissing butt and doing favors…junior employee rises through the ranks by doing whatever is necessary in the corporate world to get there.”
According to Leiker, the best reason to come see the show is to support the Music and Theater Department.
“The music is very catchy and the humor is that of the great Neil Simon, so it’s sure to knock some socks off,” Leiker said. “If they like the movie The Apartment, they’ll like this show.”
Shows will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with an afternoon matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.