Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Feb. 26, “Working: The Musical” will be running in the UAA Fine Arts Department theater. The play is directed by Nova Cunningham, and consists of over 50 cast and crew members that help aide in the show’s production.
Based on a book by Studs Terkel called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” originally written in 1974, Stephen Schwartz, who is well-known for his production of “Wicked,” took Terkel’s novel and made a musical out of it.
This musical is unique, not only because of the uncanny portrayal of the daily lives of many Americans, but also because of Schwartz’s aide in writing the play from people who actually have real life experience in daily middle-class life.
“The fascinating thing about this musical is the lines that people speak, and the lyrics in the songs are actually the words spoken from the interviews that Studs Terkel did,” Cunningham said. “The great thing for my actors was that I could give them Terkel’s book and pull out their parts. They were able to read that person’s story.”
The musical opens with a number titled “All The Livelong Day,” where the viewer is immediately immersed in the working-class American culture. Everyone is wearing different shades of denim, there is a giant two-floor prop behind that serves as the main scene on stage, and atop the whole set is a giant light up rustic sign, reading the musicals name, “Working.” In this opening scene, the viewer gains a small amount of insight into each of the actors daily life as an American.
From this opening scene, the musical dissolves into individual monologues, where the viewer truly hears what this characters’ life is like. Each character brings a smile to a viewer’s face because they know them. Whether it be the diner waitress, the over-worked receptionist just trying to pay rent each month or the old man suffering from dementia, audience members have seen each of these characters in our daily lives. The fact that the majority of the play is given to the viewer by monologue, with only one character on the stage at a time helps audience glimpse into their life even more.
Another aspect that this show addressed was its take on certain social issues. Characters of all race, gender and occupation were taken on by the actors, which sent the musical’s core message to the audience loud and clear: Regardless of one’s appearance and affiliation, at the end of the day everyone has something to give to the world, something to work for. Everyone has a different and unique story to tell, and that is what America values as a nation. “Working” is a musical that tells this story, while making the viewer laugh, smile and think of their accomplishments and hard work.
“The show was really entertaining, a lot of fun to watch. It really makes you think about your standing in this country. It put a lot of people’s hard work into perspective for me. I think UAA did a great job taking on this play,” viewer Colette Lausier said.
Production began at the beginning of this semester, which gave them only three weeks to memorize lines, create a lighting sequence, choreograph group routines and more. With the smooth execution and flow of the play, it was hard to believe it was opening night, and even harder to believe the short amount of time this crew worked together to make “Working” happen.
“Working: The Musical” is showing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Feb. 26. Tickets are $10 for students, $20 for the general public and $15 for senior and military rates.