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WORKING: The Musical Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons/'Connell & Company
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Apr 1, 2022, 13:01
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Through April 10
WORKING: The Musical Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons/O’Connell & Company

Musical entertainment is traditionally built around rich people, you know, those Astaire and Rogers films with the men in tail coats and the women in full length dresses and still managing to dance.
Of course, that changed with “Hair” and others.
That didn’t mean those with lower incomes gained center stage as replacements for those featuring expensive night clubs.
There’s also the expensive attire of shows like “Billions.”
You do wonder if any of the characters in those Thirties and later musicals actually had to go to work the next day.
Studs Terkel offered an alternative, in his written portraits of working-class people.
Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso came up with the musical answer, "Working: The Musical."
At least they did with help from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Schwartz, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers and others who put together a look at working class life, here, performers keeping in step with the need to get a paycheck.
After all, there are a lot more people getting by on the sweat of their brows, than moving money around for the benefit of the few.
The version O’Connell & Company is staging has had some localized changes allowed by the company behind the show license.
So, we hear local references, the way the Stratford Festival used to use Canadian politics in Gilbert & Sullivan musicals or the way Bob Hope once took aim at local geographic names during a show at the old Melody Fair.
Some of the songs revolve around specific lines of work, lie “The Mason” or “Cleanin’ Women” or “Brother Trucker.”
Now, all of these performers are a little too clean for some of their jobs, although that isn’t really relevant to the premise of the show.
Even so, it’s entertaining and makes a point.
I was on the old Bethlehem Steel site recently and you can still see some of the buildings used in the hot, exhausting and dangerous jobs which put steel into buildings, cars and roads.
Having been in the plant when it was working, the employees earned every dollar in their paychecks and some of them didn’t come home at the end of their shift.
It’s hard to pick out a particular performer in this show, although John Profeta is always strong in his parts, including as a sleazy suit, working with Jared Eichel in “The Mason.”
The production also benefits from a couple of non-acting pros, Donald Jenczka as the accompanist and Neal Radice as the director and designer for really well done lights and sets.
Todd Warfield contributed some strong costumes.
“Working: The Musical” is worth seeing.

A.W.

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