Musical “Working” Now Playing at the Wellesley College Theatre

Briar Banerji '18 performs in Working
Photo provided by Kim Maroon
November 15, 2017

An updated version of the 1978 musical Working, revised for the 21st century with two new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer of Hamilton, is now playing at the Wellesley College Theatre. Originally adapted for the stage by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked) and Nina Faso in 1978, based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 best-seller of the same name, Working examines the lives of people from different areas of the country who work in a variety of occupations.

Directed by Nora Hussey, director of Wellesley’s Theatre Studies program, Working comprises an ensemble cast that depicts workers across the spectrum of American life. Characters include a bar pianist, a waitress, a salesman, a corporate executive, and a steelworker, to name a few. Working takes a deep look at these people, and shows that an occupation is more than just a job for the average American.

"It is a challenge for our actors to embody a number of different people of varying backgrounds in a brief period of time," Hussey said." They are snapshots of the hopes, dreams and disappointments of many folks."

Working is not a typical musical. There’s no plot, no conflict and resolution, no love story—instead, the words and music are used to explore the relationship of everyday people to their jobs. For instance, Act I opens in the morning, when the characters are preparing to go to work. Steelworker Mike Dillard talks about the dangers of his job. Parking lot attendant Al Calinda parks the cars, saying he’s been doing this his entire life. Amanda McKenney has a strained relationship with her boss, Rex Winship, who cries on her shoulder about wanting to be a teacher. The actors talk, and sometimes sing, about their jobs, and how they have—or in some cases, haven’t—realized their self-worth through their professions. 

The show runs November 15-18 (Wed.-Sat.) at 7 pm and November 18-19 (Sat.-Sun.) at 2 pm at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre. General admission is $15, seniors and student $10. Free for all members of the Wellesley College community, Olin, Babson, and MIT students with ID. To make a reservation, call the box office: 781-283-2000. Call first, as many shows are already sold out.

In mid-November, the Wellesley College Theatre offered two sneak-peek performances of scenes from Working during Transformations: Celebrating Pendleton West.