Working at Southwark Playhouse
Working is a series of beautiful slices of life: micro stories that give a glimpse into the hearts and minds of people working in America. This show is an adaptation (by theatrical heavyweights Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso) of interviews conducted by historian Studs Terkel in the 70s, making it possibly the most striking musical of the year. These are the real words of real people, talking about what they do all day and how they feel about it.
For a production where no one character is on stage for more than five minutes, there is incredible depth to each person and a lasting emotional attachment created with many of them. The words, thoughts and feelings of real people contribute to a musical that feels so much more genuine and relevant than anything else. This is an important work, as much today as it was when Terkel first conducted his interviews. Here is an insight into the daily struggles that connect people and divide them, the search for meaning in what they do, not just the search for money – something every politician could benefit from seeing right now.
Much of the emotion comes through the beautiful music and lyrics. No other show features songs by such a range of incredible creatives. Stephen Schwartz, of course, (also behind the music of Wicked), Lin-Manuel Miranda (who developed the groundbreaking musical Hamilton) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Taylor, are just some of the people behind the songs in Working.
The mix of musical styles works wonderfully to flesh out the shallow differences between characters while the lyrics give the deeper connections they share, what they all feel and what they want from life. The cast not only keep up with the ambitious music and lyrics, but in fact provide some of the most incredible renditions anyone will ever experience of these songs. The singing voices alone are enough to draw the room into a breathless silence. And the raw emotion that the cast pours into their singing is simply stunning and, at times, tear jerking.
Working is powerful, relevant and not on for long enough. Everyone should take the chance to see it while it’s around, and with this cast.
Photos: Robert Workman
Working is at Southwark Playhouse from 2nd June until 8th July 2017, for further information or to book visit here.