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Hillsboro play addresses sexism, wage gap

COURTESY PHOTOS: CASEY CAMPBELL PHOTOGRAPHY - The women working in the typing pool experience all the ups and downs of being a woman in the workplace in The Best of Everything. For all those fans of 1950s fashion and drama, stop by Bag&Baggage Productions’ latest show, “The Best of Everything.”

The play is just one of the many works inspired by Rona Jaffe’s controversial 1958 novel about the lives and loves of women living in the big city in the 1950s.

The production addresses sexism, inequality in the workplace and the challenges women faced six decades ago.

After reading the New York Times review of the Broadway adaptation a few years ago, Bag&Baggage Artistic Director Scott Palmer was intrigued. It fit perfectly with Bag&Baggage’s artistic mission, Palmer said, which revolves largely around taking classic texts and making them relevant to modern audiences.

In addition, the show features a largely female cast, costume designer and director. “We always want to make sure women’s voices and artistry are heard,” Palmer said.

The company will present the West Coast premiere of the stage adaptation of Jaffe’s novel, adapted by Julie Kramer. “The Best of Everything” stars a number of Bag&Baggage’s female resident actors and is directed by guest Michelle Milne.

The show tells the story of a group of five young women working for a New York publishing company.

Among the cast of characters are Caroline, a recent Ivy League graduate who dreams of advancing beyond the typing pool to an editor’s office; young and naive April who arrives in New York with a mission to reinvent herself and who suddenly finds herself the object of attention for most of the men (married or not) at the firm; and Gregg, a free-spirited actress who secretly yearns for a life of quiet domesticity. All of the women struggle to find balance between their personal lives and being working women.

“It’s quaint and vintage but feels incredibly modern,” Palmer said. “It helps us recognize that maybe we haven’t come quite as far as we thought.”Jessie Walters as Mary and Andrew Beck as Eddie illustrate some of the challenges women faced working with men in the 1950s.

It’s not a particularly well-known novel and only made its stage debut a few years ago, but it’s an important time to appear in Hillsboro, Palmer said. With Hillary Clinton running for president and fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump’s disparaging comments against women, the current political climate has been drawing attention to gender equality.

“It’s always important for all theater to broadly reflect our culture and ask broader questions of our world,” Palmer said. “We learn by looking at our past.”

Bag&Baggage will offer a special “wage gap Sunday” performance to call attention to the recent research that shows women still make only $.78 per every dollar their male counterparts earn doing the same job.

Adult tickets for the Sept. 13 matinee in Section 1 will be priced at $23.40, with student and senior tickets in Section 1 at $19.50. Adult tickets in section two will be $19.50, with student and senior tickets in section two priced at $15.60.

The show runs Sept. 10 to 27. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances will be at 2 p.m. at the Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main St. in Hillsboro.