Chip Walton knows what you're thinking. As director of the dark comedy Mall-Mart: The Musical which follows the story of a businessman named Walt Sampson, who revolutionizes retail sales after World War II by selling more for less he understands that audiences might come expecting a lefty commentary on Wal-Mart and its devastating effect on the global economy. But the production, he promises, is more than that.
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"From the very beginning of this process, we've said we don't want to write some play that bashes Wal-Mart or any big retailer, because that's sort of preaching to the choir," Walton says. "We're more interested in looking at the human elements behind the question of 'Why are so many big-box retailers so successful at selling more, more cheaply, than anybody else?'"
Written by Joan Holden (playwright of Nickel and Dimed) and scored by Bruce Barthol (bass player for Country Joe and the Fish), the production is a collaboration between Curious Theatre Company (of which Walton is artistic director) and the University of Colorado at Boulder's department of theater and dance. While Curious has provided the professional actors and CU the choreographer and stage construction, both groups have pitched in designers and chorus members.
"I've been on both the academic side and the professional side," Walton says, "and for these students to receive this real-life experience on the professional side while they're still students is so important."
A live band will perform all music, and each performance will be followed by a panel discussion with actors and staff. The production runs at the University Theatre Mainstage on the CU campus through April 22, when it will move to Curious and run from April 28 through June 9. Get times and ticket information at www.colorado.edu/theatredance or www.curioustheatre.org.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 27. Continues through June 9