Department of Theatre to Present Working
Working is a musical that tells “the story of everyman and everywoman out there today!” explained William Mutimer, guest director of the November 14-18 production by East Stroudsburg University’s Theatre Department.
Based on the best-selling oral history by Studs Terkel, the book’s subtitle, People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, describes the focus of the musical which paints a fascinating picture of the core human truths that transcend professions.
Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, with additional contributions from Gordon Greenberg, adapted the book into a musical that was updated in 2012 to reflect the contemporary workplace.
Tony, Grammy and Academy-Award winning composers Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell,) Lin-Manuel Miranda, and James Taylor contributed songs to the musical along with Mary Rogers Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, and Susan Birkenhead.
“Not all of the characters are likable and none of them are perfect,” said Mutimer, an associate professor of humanities and social sciences at Northampton Community College. “But, they are true people with their strengths and faults, fears and joys. Especially now, when accepting people for who they are is being challenged, it is a time to hear from these voices.”
Colleen Popper, a senior from Cresco, Pa. majoring in theatre with a concentration in acting for theatre, television and film, plays Rose Hoffman, a veteran teacher who is bewildered by the changing demands of the profession.
“At first I didn’t like my character,” said Popper. “She’s a negative person, frustrated, angry, and confused, but I learned to see her point of view. She loved her job, but is being forced to change and is no longer in control of how she runs her classroom.”
Deijah Faulkner, a junior from East Stroudsburg majoring in theatre and minoring in women’s studies, found it easy to relate to her character, Maggie Holmes, a cleaning lady. “She’s a Southern mother who spent all of her life as a cleaning lady, but wants to be the last one in her family to do this job.
“My grandmother, like many other African American women, was a cleaning lady,” Faulkner said, “but my mother was the only sibling out of eight to get a career. Maggie is a character that I can connect to and respect.”
In addition to being in Working, Faulkner is assistant costume designer for the production. “The musical numbers feature most of the performers and many of the men are playing more than one character,” she noted, “so the costumes are basic and flexible, with accent pieces added to help define specific characters.”
Projections designer Joshua Weidenbaum, a senior from Saylorsburg, Pa., majoring in musical and technical theatre, chose images to enhance the mood of the production. He explained that Yoshinori Tanokura, associate professor and interim chair of theatre, designed the set with space for projections in certain scenes, and that Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theatre, designed the lighting to work with the projections.
“The images echo the theme, faces of everyday people, and the projections include occupations highlighted in the musical,” Weidenbaum said. “People should be able to look at the projections and say, ‘this could be me.’”
“Working is an uplifting and invigorating look at the people who make this world great,” added Mutimer. “I approached this production from a place of honesty and action, and told my actors to tell the story of each character and to look for the love.”
Working will be performed in the Smith-McFarland Theatre of ESU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, East Stroudsburg. This play is recommended for ages 12 and above.
Curtain times for the production are 7:30 p.m. November 14-17 and 2 p.m. November 18. There also is a special “relaxed” performance of the play Saturday, November 17 at 2 p.m.
A “relaxed” performance is intended specifically to be sensitive to, and accepting of audience members who may benefit from a more stress-free environment, including (but not limited to) those with autistic spectrum conditions; anyone with sensory and communication disorders; or learning-disabled people.
General admission is $12; senior citizens, faculty and staff (with ID) are $10; students (with ID) are $7; and youth are $5. For the “relaxed performance, admission prices are $10, $8, $6, and $4.
Tickets are available online in advance at esu.edu\theatretickets (credit cards only online). Remaining tickets are available at the box office one hour before curtain on performance dates (cash and checks only at the box office). For reservations or other information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-422-3483.