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 24-hour workday, the audience meets and hears the stories of various workers.

The musical begins on a 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 that is made from 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 that 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 into 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 ring-up 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 that 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 that 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, coming 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 youth. At the last hour of the workday, all of the workers reflect on their regrets and the lives that 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, the retired Joe Zutty 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 o'clock in the morning, 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 that he's made and the lessons that he hopes to pass on in the song, "Fathers and Sons." The ensemble comes out, points to a building, and describes the different jobs that they each have had there in "Something to Point To." The musical ends with a collective acknowledgment of each of their accomplishments.

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
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 1974 Studs Terkel book, Working: People Talk about What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, 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 twelve 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 90-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 of Sarasota, Florida, in May 2008; the Old Globe Theatre of San Diego, California, in March 2009; and then at the Broadway Playhouse at the Water Tower Place of 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 four-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 second 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's 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 six Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, as well as four Drama Desk Awards (aside from the two it won), including Outstanding Musical .
  • Working contains the only songs that 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

Tony® Award

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)
1978 - Scenic Designer (Play), Nominee (David Mitchell)

Drama Desk Award

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)
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)

Connect

Billing

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
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? - SGLPIECE
OPTIONAL SONGPAK
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSCORE+
REHEARSCORE+ DIGITAL
SOUND EFFECTS RECORDING-DIGITAL
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