After the hypercharged climate of election season—with each jobs report sparking a media maelstrom—this is an appropriate time for a revival of Working. Based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 book of interviews, the musical, originally adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, recounts the lives of everyday blue-collar workers—from telephone operators to truck drivers.
Director Gordon Greenberg has collaborated on a fresh adaptation with Schwartz and Faso, as well as composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who contributed two songs reflecting the growing ethnic diversity of America’s workforce. Prospect Theater Company premieres the revival Dec. 1–30 at 59E59 Theaters in NYC.
Greenberg visited the Chicago History Museum to research and dissect Terkel’s raw interview transcripts. Although the nature of work itself has been transformed over the past 40 years due to technology, Greenberg realized that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
With 6 actors playing 36 characters, the minimalist revival “creates a more intimate engagement with the audience,” the director says. Even the stage manager and technical crew have onstage cameos. “We wanted to show the work that goes into an evening of theatre,” Greenberg avows.
Despite the current economic decline, Working’s heartbeat still rings true: “In the end, everyone finds joy and purpose in their work through the beauty of simple things,” Greenberg concludes.