Working
This examination of people from all walks of life proves that it's more than just a job for the average working American.
Show Essentials
9
Roles
PG
Rated
1
Act

Full Synopsis

In the course of one twenty-four hour workday, the audience meets and hears the stories of various workers.

The musical begins Monday morning as the ensemble comes out, introduces themselves, and sings "All the Livelong Day." First, Mike Dillard, a steelworker, talks about his job and thinks about the man who drives the car made with his steel. The Workers, driving their cars, are held up in a Traffic Jam, then they turn their cars over to Al Calinda, the parking lot attendant. Al tells his life story and sings about his obsession with cars in the song, "Lovin' Al."

Meanwhile, in an office filled with cubicles, Amanda McKenny and her fellow workers talk about their work days in a time of computers and corporate mergers. Amanda and her co-workers attempt to do as little work as possible. In contrast, her boss, Rex Winship, loves to work and he takes an overseas call. Rex hopes to retire and become a teacher, so he can pass on his business knowledge to the next generation.

Next, an aging third grade teacher, Rose Hoffman greets her students as they come in to class. She laments the changing teaching methods and different generations in the song, "Nobody Tells Me How." Rose then remembers her favorite student, Pam "Babe" Secoli, who is now a checker at the Treasure Island Supermarket. In "I'm Just Movin'," Babe and two other checkers check-out and bag groceries for shoppers. Roberto, a bag boy, bags lettuce for Kate Rushton, a housewife, as he remembers his migrant worker family. He sings "Un Mejor Dia Vendra" with Spanish Workers.

Kate goes home with her groceries where Conrad, the UPS deliveryman, startles her. Conrad talks about the low points of his day (being bitten by dogs) and the high points (meeting pretty housewives). Alone in her kitchen, Kate sings about her mundane tasks in "Just a Housewife." As the lights fade on Kate, Roberta Victor, a hooker, comes on and announces she never wanted to be a housewife. She talks about turning her first trick and how women are taught to hustle. Candy Cottingham, a political fundraiser, says her work is hard because she has to separate people from their money. Candy sees herself as an entertainer while Roberta does not see her occupation as being different from someone who works on an assembly line.

The lights fade on Roberta and Candy and come up on Grace working in a suitcase factory. In the song "Millwork," Grace and her fellow Millworkers lament their boring, monotonous jobs and begin to daydream about their lost youths. At the last hour of the workday, all the workers reflect on their regrets and the lives they might have had in the song "If I Could ve Been."

As the sun sets, Anthony Palazzo, a stone mason, wants to lay one more stone before he quits for the day. The song The Mason describes how a mason's work (building stone houses) lasts beyond his lifetime. As evening sets in, two truck drivers, Frank Decker and Dave, drive across the country in the song Brother Trucker. Frank, on a run from Milwaukee, tries to call his dispatcher but only gets an operator (Heather) instead. Heather, Sharon Atkins (a receptionist), and Enid Dubois (a telephone solicitor) talk about their lives over the phone. As dinnertime sets in at a restaurant, Delores, a waitress, turns her job of serving food into a one-woman show in the song It s an Art. Then, Joe Zutty, who is retired, comes on and describes his life in the song Joe. He keeps busy by traveling and going to fires, like the one where the audience meets Tom, the fireman, running out of a burning building. Tom has always wanted to be a fireman. However, Maggie, who's cleaning offices at two a.m., has always wanted to sing and play piano. In the song "Cleaning Women," Maggie dreams of a better life for her daughter, the next generation. Maggie leaves and the next generation comes on in the persona of Ralph Werner, a nineteen-year-old salesman who dreams of starting his own business and having his own family. In contrast, Charlie Blossom, a twenty-year-old copy boy, dreams of killing everyone at his job.

Then, Mike Dillard comes back out and laments the mistakes he s made and the lessons he hopes to pass on in the song "Fathers and Sons." The ensemble comes out, points to a building, and describes the different jobs they each have had there in "Something to Point To." The musical ends with a collective acknowledgment of the accomplishments of each of them.

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

Man 1

Mike Dillard, ironworker.

 

Gender: male
Man 2

Al Calinda, parking lot attendant.

Frank Decker, interstate trucker.

Tom Patrick, fireman.

 

Gender: male
Man 3

Rex Winship, corporate executive.

Anthony Coelho, stone mason.

Joe Zutty, retired.

 

Gender: male
Man 4

Conrad Swibel, UPS delivery man.

"Mason" Soloist. 

Ralph Werner, salesman.

 

Gender: male
Man 5

Roberto Nunez, boxboy and migrant worker.

Other trucker. 

Charlie Blossom, ex-copy boy.

 

Gender: male
Woman 1

Amanda McKenny, project manager.

Grace Clements, millworker.

Enid Dubois, telephone solicitor.

Maggie Holmes, cleaning woman.

 

Gender: female
Woman 2

Rose Hoffman, schoolteacher.

Candy Cottingham, political fundraiser.

Delores Dante, waitress.

 

Gender: female
Woman 3

Babe Secoli, supermarket checker. 

Roberta Victor, hooker.

"Millwork" soloist.

Sharon Atkins, receptionist.

 

Gender: female
Woman 4

Kate Rushton, housewife.

Heather Lamb, telephone operator.

 

Gender: female
Full Song List
Working: All The Live Long Day
Working: Traffic Jam
Working: Lovin' Al
Working: The Mason
Working: Neat To Be A Newsboy
Working: Nobody Tells Me How
Working: I'm Just Movin'
Working: Un mejor Dia Vendra
Working: Just A Housewife
Working: Millwork
Working: If I Could've Been
Working: Joe
Working: It's An Art
Working: Brother Trucker
Working: Fathers And Sons
Working: Cleanin' Women
Working: Something To Point To

Show History

Inspiration

The musical is based on the Studs Terkel book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Dayand How They Feel About What They Do (1974), which has interviews with people from different regions and occupations. With his knowledge confined to his life of work in and around the theatre at the time, Stephen Schwartz felt compelled to explore the voices of the men and women who comprise the fabric of America after reading Terkel s extensive collection of interviews, and thus the idea for the musical Working was born.

Productions

Working, with a book by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, music by Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, and James Taylor, and lyrics by Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, Taylor, and Susan Birkenhead was first staged at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago from December 1977 through February 1978.

A follow-up production at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage was then scrapped as the musical moved straight to Broadway, opening at the 46th Street Theatre on May 14, 1978. There it ran for 12 previews and 24 performances before closing on June 4, 1978. The musical was directed by Stephen Schwartz with choreography by Onna White.

In 1982, Schwartz and Nina Faso adapted the show for a ninety-minute telecast on the PBS series American Playhouse, directed by Schwartz and Kirk Browning.

In March 1999, a revised, updated, and paired-down version of Working was presented at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, with direction by Christopher Ashley and adaptations by Stephen Schwartz.

The musical then continued to undergo revisions, falling into the hands of Gordon Greenberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the later of whom contributed two new songs, both collaborating with Schwartz to bring the musical into the 21st century. Three developmental productions at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Sarasota, Florida in May 2008, the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California, in March 2009, and then at the Broadway Playhouse at the Water Tower Place in Chicago in February 2011 were all directed by Greenberg.

Happy with the revisions and feedback, Working then came back to New York, opening Off-Broadway for a 4-week limited run at the 59E59 Theater on December 12, 2012, after previews which began on December 1, 2012. Again directed by Gordon Greenberg, the cast featured Joe Cassidy, Donna Lynne Champlin, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Nehal Joshi and Kenita Miller.

Working was produced at the 2nd annual Hollywood Fringe Festival of Los Angeles in June 2011 by the group theTRIBE.

The show's Asian premiere was in Singapore, performed by LASALLE College of the Arts. The production run was at the Creative Cube in September 2011.

In addition to these high-profile productions, even throughout its many revisions, Working has become a regional, college, and community favorite around the country, showing the everyday life of the everyman.

Cultural Influence

  • A cast album from the original Broadway cast of Working was released in 1978.

 

Trivia

  • Working was nominated for 6 Tony Awards including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score as well as 4 Drama Desk Awards aside from the 2 it won, including Outstanding Musical .
  • Working contains the only songs singer-songwriter James Taylor ever wrote for the stage.

Critical Reaction

"The musical's celebration of even the most seemingly marginal contributions as intrinsic elements of nation-building gives it stirring resonance." - New York Times

"Entertaining, funny and touching, it is worth catching, not the least because Working has been smartly updated, with wonderful new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and new characters, based on new interviews, that reflect how dramatically the world of work has changed just in the past three decades." - New York Theatre

"Winningly reimagined, enhanced and fully engaging... not only pays subtle homage to Studs, the Chicago icon, but also to the work of theater, for which he was a lifelong enthusiast." - Chicago Sun-Times

"Working remains a moving piece of musical theater, with one of the best scores of the latter 20th century." - Talkin Broadway

"Has the power to rejuvenate." - Herald Tribune
 

Drama Desk Award

1978 - Outstanding Director Of A Musical, Winner (Stephen Schwartz)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Nominee (Lenora Nemetz)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Brad Sullivan)
1978 - Outstanding Musical, Nominee (Working)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Matt Landers)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Bobo Lewis)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Nominee (Lenora Nemetz)
1978 - Outstanding Musical, Nominee ()
1978 - Outstanding Direction of a Musical, Nominee (Stephen Schwartz)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Matt Landers)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Brad Sullivan)
1978 - Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Bobo Lewis)

Tony® Award

1978 - Scenic Designer (Play), Nominee (David Mitchell)
1978 - Best Book Of A Musical, Nominee (Stephen Schwartz)
1978 - Best Original Score, Nominee (Craig Carnelia, Stephen Schwartz, Susan Birkenhead, Mary Rodgers, et.al)
1978 - Best Featrured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Steven Boockvor)
1978 - Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Rex Everhart)
1978 - Best Scenic Design, Nominee (David Mitchell)
1978 - Actor In A Featured Role (Musical), Nominee (Rex Everhart)
1978 - Best Lighting Design, Nominee (Ken Billington)
1978 - Actor In A Featured Role (Musical), Nominee (Steven Boockvor)
1978 - Best Score, Nominee (Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Roger, Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor (music and lyrics))
1978 - Book Of A Broadway Musical, Nominee (Stephen Schwartz)
1978 - Lighting Designer (Play), Nominee (Ken Billington)

Connect

Billing

Requirements

Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.

WORKING

A Musical

From the book by STUDS TERKEL

Adapted by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ and NINA FASO

Songs by

CRAIG CARNELIA

MICKI GRANT

MARY RODGERS and SUSAN BIRKENHEAD

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

JAMES TAYLOR

Dance Music by MICHELE BROURMAN

Original production directed by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

 

If "Look For The Union Label" is used, the following credit must be given in

your program: "Look For The Union Label" is used by permission of the

International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Concept/lyrics by Paula Green;

music by Malcolm Dodds.

 

 

The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK20
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE2
STUDY GUIDE1

Production Resources

Resource
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON-10/CS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON?
OPTIONAL SONGPAK
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSCORE+
REHEARSCORE+ DIGITAL
SOUND EFFECTS RECORDING-DIGITAL
STREAMING & REMOTE LICENSE
VIRTUAL STAGE MANAGER

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASSACOUSTIC BASS , FENDER BASS
DRUMSBONGO , CASTANETS , GLOCKENSPIEL , KIT , TAMBOURINE , TYMPANI , WIND CHIMES
GUITARACOUSTIC GUITAR , CLASSICAL GUITAR , ELECTRIC GUITAR , MANDOLIN , TWELVE STRING GUITAR
KEYBOARD 2FENDER RHODES , SYNTHESIZER
PERCUSSIONANVIL , BELL TREE , BONGO , CABASA , CASTANETS , FINGER CYMBAL , GLOCKENSPIEL , GUIRO , SAND BLOCK , SHAKER , TAMBOURINE , TRIANGLE , TUBULAR BELLS , TYMPANI , WIND CHIMES , XYLOPHONE