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Penn State Alum Helps Bring Broadway To Happy Valley Through ‘Waitress: The Musical’

Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts is bringing one graduate back to campus this week alongside the hit Broadway musical, “Waitress”.

The show’s assistant audio designer, Alex Pregel, graduated from Penn State last year and joined the crew for this year’s tour. We sat down with him to learn about his experiences with the heart-warming show and his time at Penn State.

Before getting to know Pregel, though, you’ll want to get to know the show. Based on the 2007 film, “Waitress: The Musical” tells the story of a waitress and pie-maker who’s longing to get out of her small town and toxic marriage. Looking for ways out, she sees a pie baking contest and its grand prize as her chance. The musical itself is scored by Grammy-winner singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.

Pregel has always loved theatre and sound design, and Penn State gave him the tools to pursue both interests. He studied sound design and production and worked behind the scenes for a handful of productions at Eisenhower Auditorium and the State Theatre downtown.

“Hands down, the football games and bar crawling would be some of my favorite [experiences], as well as my time with the School of Theatre and Music,” he said while reflecting on his time at Penn State.

“Waitress” began its current U.S. tour with a pitstop in Erie, Pa., on March 1 and 2. After hitting Happy Valley, the musical will make nearly 50 stops across the country along the east coast and as far west as Texas and Oklahoma.

Pregel said following the show around on tour is one of the most enjoyable parts of his current gig.

“The biggest part is all the traveling we do and the lifestyle of being on the road, going place to place,” Pregel said. “It’s a combination of seeing a lot of country and all the people I get to do it with.”

The production team and cast are constantly on the move going city-to-city with only one day off each week. However, that doesn’t bother Pregel one bit.

While working the show itself, Pregel is ultimately responsible for keeping its audio equipment and production in check. He helps modify the show’s performance for each unique venue along its wide-spanning tour.

“My job consists of preparing all the microphones, unloading the audio equipment, and essentially taking the show’s design and integrating it into new venues,” Pregel said.

He mentioned that his work now is what he was already used to when he went to Penn State, though on a much different scale.

Courtesy of Alex Pregel

Audio equipment aside, “Waitress” also lands differently in each venue thanks to the folks who watch it. Pregel said one interesting aspect of putting the production on is seeing how different crowds react to its jokes and music.

Pregel and the rest of the “Waitress” crew return to Happy Valley on Thursday, March 3, for a one-night-only show at Eisenhower Auditorium. Tickets are currently available online.

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a first-year student at Penn State from Newark, Delaware and is studying broadcast journalism. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy.

Follow him on the 'gram: @e.evan.halfen.n

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