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Working - A Musical

a Musical
CATEGORY :
by Studs Terkel, Stephen Schwartz, Nina Faso

COMPANY : The New Depot Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Center Street Arts [WEBSITE]
ID# 2818

SHOWING : July 18, 2008 - August 02, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Do you love your job? Or do you watch the clock, just waiting for the end of your workday? The Tony-nominated musical Working is based on Studs Terkel’s 1972 best-selling book of interviews with ordinary American workers. Working explores the gamut of people's emotions about their jobs and remains a witty and timely commentary on how work defines the worker's self-worth and cultural legacy. The musical is a celebration of the anonymous many whose lives touch ours everyday without our realizing it. Created by Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell” and “Wicked”) and filled with an impressive variety of songs by five additional composers, including James Taylor and Mary Rodgers, the story reflects the grievances, hopes and dreams of the unsung heroes and heroines of the American workforce. Songs like “Millwork,” “Brother Trucker,” “Just a Housewife,” and “If I Could’ve Been,” capture the poetry of the everyday. Working has remained one of the most popular musicals since its Broadway opening in 1978. The story reflects the grievances, hopes and dreams of the unsung heroes and heroines of the American workforce. With such a wide cross-section of characters, you’ll surely feel that at least one of them is singing your song.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Anne Hargis
Choreographer Colleen Hargis
Musical Director Lenae Rose
Pianist Chuck Bradley
Conrad Swibel/Anthony Coelho Chad Aiken
Rex Winship/Frank Decker Rick Bryant
Newsboy/girl Blakley Bryant
Soloist/Millwork Brittney Bryant
Enid DuBois Connie Davis
Amanda McKenny/Heather Lamb Kim Fratesi
Roberta Victor/Sharon Atkins Kelly Gregg
Candy Cottingham/Grace Clements/Delores Colleen Hargis
Mike Dillard Joseph Harrison
Joe Zutty Tom Harrison
Babe Secoli Joni Howard
Kate Rushton/Maggie Holmes Amber McCullough
Rose Hoffman Jill Miller
Charlie Blossom/Lovin Al Les Mosley
Roberto/Ralph Werner/Tom Patrick Britt Reagan
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REVIEWS

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Didn’t always work for me
by Rockdale Writer
Thursday, August 28, 2008
3.0
Once upon a time when this writer had not yet decided on a career, Studs Terkel’s book “Working” was both Whitman’s Sampler and crystal ball. The interviews—monologues, really, since the questions were eliminated—gave glimpses into what it would be like to be an ironworker, truck driver or political fundraiser.
After seeing this production of the musical based on the book, I now know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a telephone operator, just like Heather Lamb (played by Kim Fratesi) and eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. It’s a guilty pleasure that Heather confesses so openly, making it an appealing perk worth enduring the hours of tedium in between.
Colleen Hargis-Gaenssley’s interpretation of waitress Delores Dante reminded me of why I (briefly) chose the food service industry—Ms. Dante had such an appetite for her line of work, I identified with her. Everyone has to eat. The whole world comes to me.
Colleen also delivers another stunning portrayal, that of millworker Grace Clements, but in what can only be called an anti-recruitment scenario Colleen mimes the back-breaking working while droning on about the awful conditions. It’s a chilling scene that every high school graduation coach should have taken his or her students to see. (Yes, the show has closed and I missed deadline big time. But I wanted to share my thoughts with you for the record anyway.)
Colleen (who also choreographed) translates from one character to another with ease, but not all the actors have her fluency despite director Anne Hargis’ (her mom) efforts to stretch their ranges by giving each of them a number of roles to play.
Speaking of numbers, often Ms. Hargis put too many bodies on stage; nearly half of those bodies were obese. Her choice of identical t-shirts as a uniform/costume was too arbitrary; the weight-challenged performers should have worn more flattering and less distracting button-down shirts.
Ms. Hargis also selected or allowed New York accents for some of the workers, which was unfortunate except in the case of Britt Reagan. As fireman Tom Patrick, Britt made it work flawlessly. A slight Hispanic cadence flavored his portrayal of Robert Nunez, box boy and migrant worker, which seemed to help him burst out with a menacing passion that rippled through the audience like fear. Britt, a junior majoring in theatre, is one of the discoveries that make this job so delightful.
Sharing Britt’s magnetic stage presence is Amber McCullough, who shone as housewife Kate Rushton, desperately reaching out for appreciation and trust.
Joni Howard also impressed as grocery store checker Babe Secoli, confidently guiding new clerks through the miles of aisles.
A deliciously droll second-act pick-me-up was Les Mosley as ex-copy boy Charlie Blossom. His interlude was like a cross between “The Front Page” and “Natural Born Killers” interpreted by comic Steven Wright.
However, there were some characters that did not work for me.
As ironworker Mike Dillard, Joseph Harrison seemed oddly feminine. He may have been playing against stereotype but he stretched himself very close to Village People status. Did Anne not notice?
Likewise, corporate executive Rex Winship, played by Rick Bryant, was more Milquetoast than mogul. I understand portraying a conflicted character adds depth to a role, but in the few minutes we had to meet each worker the subtlety just became confusing.
Also appearing were Jill Miller, Chad Aiken, Kelly Gregg, Blakely Bryant, Connie Davis and Tom Harrison. Musical director was Lenae Rose. Set design (kudos!) by Anne and Rick. Lights by Carissa Worm.
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Talent Pool by Bill Mann
Always remember that casting a show is based on the talent pool. If the talent, that you want, isn't there then you must cast from your talent pool. Next time you should audition so that the pool will be a little deeper.


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