Drama teacher Kim Bonagofski had a particular goal in mind when she selected the first play of the season for the Mountain Pointe Theatre Company.
“I was looking for a piece that would challenge the students,” said the Mountain Pointe High School drama teacher. “I think I did. The theme is very deep, but one that many can relate to today still.”
Indeed, in an age when robots are increasingly seen as the workforce of the future, the student thespians will be giving themselves and their audience a lot to think about when they present “The Adding Machine.”
The play will be presented at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at Mountain Pointe High School, 4201 E. Knox Road, Ahwatukee. Tickets, $10 for adults and $7 for students, will be available at the door.
In the play, “Mr. Zero is an accountant at a large, faceless company,” according to the student group’s season preview sheet. “After 25 years at his job, he discovers that he will be replaced by an adding machine. In anger and pain, he snaps and kills his boss. Mr. Zero is then tried for murder, found guilty and hanged.”
Mr. Zero wakes up in a Heaven-like setting, where he begins operating an adding machine until he is told he is a waste of space and sent back to Earth.
The 1923 play was adapted into a movie in 1969 and a musical in 2008.
Despite its iterations, the work’s basic theme remained unchanged. As one reviewer said about the movie:
“The key to understanding ‘The Adding Machine’ is understanding that the original play is not about life, but about business. Like Willy Loman’s in ‘Death of a Salesman,’ Mr. Zero’s name is a description of the man himself; he’s a zero, a nothing. His reward for years of faithful service to the company is that his job is eliminated, even when he is clearly too old to go out and get another job. He’s just a number to them. But this brutal reality continues in the hereafter.”
Bonagofski said the play is right up her alley.
“This is a great conversation show,” she said. “I enjoying doing show like ‘The Adding Machine’ because I want people to leave wanting to talk about.”
The cast started its work on the production less than two weeks after the new school year began.
Though there were the usual challenges, she’s pleased with the progress the cast and crew have made since they began working on the production.
“Every day there is a new challenge, such at getting the actors to understand their characters, building the set,” she said. “What makes it all worth it is the finished product on opening night.”
But the challenges just aren’t on and behind the stage.
Mountain Pointe Theatre Company also depends on a group of dedicated parents who form its boosters club.
This year, the club’s officers are: Kim Artusa, president; Stacey Stanton, secretary; Tahlia Brooks, treasurer; and Jami Marlies, publicity.
The group will have its first meeting at 6 p.m. tonight, Sept. 6, and generally meets the first Wednesday of the month. Interested parents can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I hope to have a huge turnout for our first meeting to get parents involved again this year,” said Artusa.
“Boosters have been preparing through fundraisers within the community,” she added, explaining the boosters are “setting up community rewards to raise money for the shows, purchasing items for concessions, setting up volunteer sign up opportunities and printing out headshots.”
“The Adding Machine” is the first of five productions the student thespians will be presenting this school year.
The others will include: a love story titled “Almost, Maine”; “Fences,” the famous Broadway play by August Wilson whose film version captured several Academy Awards this year; “High School Musical,” a popular Disney film; and a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
Nemo Wright plays Mr. Zero while Jack Rupp plays the implacable The Boss.
Other cast members include: Shrdlu, played by Cedric Beck; Lt. Charles, Cory Drozdowski; Mrs. Zero, Janae Jessie; Daisy Devore, Ali Stookey; Mr. Two/Joe, Will Patti; Mr. Three, Quinn Rupp; Mr. Five, Ruben Ayala; Mr. Six, Grant Cunningham; Mrs. One, Alison Konczak; Mrs. Two, Savannah Mendez; Mrs. Three, Cassandra Presume; Mrs. Four, Lindsay Hudak; Mrs. Six, Teresa Chavez; Judy O’Grady, Addison Harvey; Young Man, Noah Butler; A Head, Jamon Pritchett; and Policeman, Xavion Graham.
Stage managers are Jayla Alston and Julianne Porter.
Crew chiefs are: technical director, Lexi Powers; sets, Quinn Rupp and Alayjia Marcelin; costumes, Taylor Simmons and Ethan Bryant; props, Chloe Kuznia and Lexi Artusa-Sirota; sound, Brianna Frommelt; lights, Madison Smith; projection team, Jillian McDonald and Bella Alati; and publicity, Lexi Rodriguez.