New fortunes for ‘Man with the Plastic Sandwich’

Olympic Theatre Arts’ show kicks off three-week run

Walter (Shaun Hughbanks) sings a familiar jingle with Haley (Steve Fisher) in “The Man with the Plastic Sandwich.” Hughbanks’ character encounters three life-changing individuals after losing his job of 20 years. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Walter (Shaun Hughbanks) sings a familiar jingle with Haley (Steve Fisher) in “The Man with the Plastic Sandwich.” Hughbanks’ character encounters three life-changing individuals after losing his job of 20 years. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

SEQUIM — Sometimes in order to make change in our lives, we need a push. For Walter Price in Olympic Theatre Arts’ “The Man with the Plastic Sandwich,” he gets three.

Walter — played by Shaun Hughbanks — is fired after 20 years at his job and tries to determine his next steps while eating lunch in the park.

From there, he goes on a comedic journey as a diverse group of characters interrupt him and expand his mindset.

“The Man with the Plastic Sandwich” runs for three weeks in OTA’s Gathering Hall, 414 N. Sequim Ave., at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through May 12, with a free preview at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Tickets, $20 for general admission and $15 for students, are available at olympictheatrearts.org or by calling the box office at 360-683-7326 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Hughbanks, who retired to Sequim last April, said this is his second show with OTA after 40 years away from the stage.

“I wanted to (act) for a job, but had to get a real job,” he said.

He had two careers: 22 years at Nordstrom and 13 at Boeing, he said.

Initially, Hughbanks said he felt the show was a little light in content, but on each read through — now on at least his 300th turn — he said it’s revealed more and more substance.

“Walter is a guy who was me,” Hughbanks said. “In 2002, I worked for my first company 22 years and I was let go. He’s going through the same thing; a whole character crisis … and asking, ‘What am I gonna do next?’”

Cast of characters

Actors say their eclectic characters each bring something different to Walter, with Ellie (AnLi Guttormsen) sharing youthful optimism and hope, Haley (Steve Fisher) wisdom and Lenore (Cheryl Tamblyn) reality.

Hughbanks said Ellie is someone with a million thoughts at once who feels she can bounce back from anything, while Haley holds the wisdom he wants to obtain for success. However, Lenore, because of her occupation as a prostitute, is someone he feels he can immediately dismiss.

“All the characters are a different reflection of a different aspect of him that has to all come together for him to find his path forward,” Fisher said.

His character Haley once had success but chose to give it up to live without possessions.

“He wants to focus on life and not all the trappings of life,” he said. “He had it all at one point and chose not to have it all.”

Fisher, volunteering with OTA for about a year following a writing career for TV, film and later “Costco Connections,” said Haley wants Walter to be himself and comfortable with his life.

“A lot of people go on the path they’re put on without thinking about how to make my life happier,” Fisher said.

Guttormsen, acting in her second OTA show, said the characters push Walter out of his comfort zone.

“Ellie says a lot of funny things. She’s very energetic and has a lot to say even if Walter doesn’t want to hear it,” she said.

“She’s very open, upfront and will talk about anything.”

That’s what drew Guttormsen to the character as she loves becoming someone else on stage. She also understands Walter’s general thoughts of feeling stuck.

“In life, you’re going day by day, and a lot of people are trying to figure out the bigger picture,” she said. “Being in this play makes me reflect on ‘What do I really enjoy?’”

Tamblyn returns to OTA for her third play after falling in love with the acting process in the nonprofit theater company’s shows “Calendar Girls” and “Holmes for the Holidays.”

Lenore being a prostitute was a surprise to her and created some consternation, she said, as the character is “very confident and a force to be reckoned with.”

“I’m kind of a softie, and I’m learning to step into a Lenore that’s more aggressive and has stronger mannerisms of how I project and present myself,” Tamblyn said.

Lenore acts as Walter’s conscience, she said, as he has a lot of beliefs of how things should be.

“He’s stuck in old ways of thinking and I’m trying to educate him, but he’s a pretty dense guy and I really have to push my point and get into his face,” Tamblyn said.

Hughbanks said following his encounters, there is a transformation for Walter that the character never imagined could be for the better.

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