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Is No One Interested in "Working"?
Posted by Scottsacto 2012-12-01 10:16:43


I am surprised that I have seen no chatter about this show. Looks interesting, though I know very little about the Original Run of it.

Was hoping maybe Whizzer was going to it this weekend.

Would love to hear what people think.



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Posted by Owen22 2012-12-01 10:21:05


I'd actually forgotten it was on. I love me some "Working" but I'm off to London on Tuesday, so I'm not even sure I'll be around to see it...

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Posted by Jon 2012-12-01 10:51:01


This new version is done with six actors. The original had around 16. The script has been updated, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has written a couple of new songs.

In this version, you see the actors change costumes, wigs, etc. on stage as they prepare to portray each character.

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Posted by darquegk 2012-12-01 10:53:33


Working is an interesting animal to me- the way it gets updated every twenty years to reflect the state of the workforce and the economy in each generation makes it truly unique as a show. Other than perhaps Godspell, given that every new production trots out new references and new orchestrations, i can't think of any other show that "evolves" the way Working does.

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Posted by Jon 2012-12-01 10:59:44


Thankfully, the awful Newsboy song is gone. These days in most suburbs, newspapers are delivered by senior citizens in cars... if anyone actually gets the daily paper anymore.

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Posted by Mr Roxy 2012-12-01 13:49:25


I remember seeing the original production.There is a Dvd of a 90 minute version with most of the main numbers in it.Would like to see an off Broadway production. Nowadays it might be titled Not Working or Barely Working.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-01 14:25:45


No.

The original was interesting, and very of its time, and it's over.

This sounds like an attempt to raise the dead, and that only results in creating a zombie.

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Posted by stevenycguy 2012-12-01 14:50:41


No. The Prospect Theater Company tends to charge off-Broadway prices for off-off-off-Broadway quality productions, songs that are pedestrian and repetitive, and jokes that only they think are funny. There are so many other worthy shows that are worth my time and money.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-01 15:17:26


Also - Miranda just proved with Bring It On (and West Side Story) that he's pretty much a one-trick pony.

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Posted by little_sally 2012-12-01 15:21:15


^ glad I'm not the only one who thinks that.

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Posted by AwesomeDanny 2012-12-01 16:27:10


This production played in Chicago last year and in San Diego in 2008 (but with different casts). I saw it in Chicago, and thought it was wonderful. There was a big thread on here about that production, and it seemed that the overall reaction was very positive. I would love to hear how the new cast is.

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Posted by LimelightMike 2012-12-01 16:33:02


Is there a Playbill for this one? What's the artwork like?

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Posted by ReggieonBway 2012-12-01 16:36:44


"Also - Miranda just proved with Bring It On (and West Side Story) that he's pretty much a one-trick pony."

? How exactly did West Side Story and Bring It On prove that he's a one-trick pony? Specifically.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-01 23:52:09


Just back from it.... The cast is wonderful and some of the songs really stand the test of time. But it's slow, and feels a lot longer than 90 minutes. I'm sure they will tighten it up.

Miranda's songs are unnecessary, and stick out like a sore thumb.

Champlin is divine in her multiple roles. But when is she not amazing?

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Posted by sally1112 2012-12-02 09:36:00


Can't add anything about current production, but I am a fan of the show itself. Saw it down well here regionally and have, "It's an Art," and "just a Housewife," on heavy rotation on my iPod.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-02 10:03:15


I don't want to write too much because it was a first preview, and they definitely have some kinks to iron out. There is a LOT of staging. Maybe too much. But I think they'll find their groove.

The dressing room is on-stage, behind a see-through wall. Very clever.

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Posted by LimelightMike 2012-12-02 13:29:50


iluvtheatretertrash: What's the cover art/artawork like for this show? And, is there a song list?

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Posted by broadwaybabe1234 2012-12-02 18:32:29


i wish them the best of luck but i can't stand this show. Apart from the opening and the closing number i feel like all the songs are boring and don't give us enough of each character to really feel anything about them.

On a side note, i just did the show and played Babe who singings "I'm just movin'" Is that song cut from this production? because i think it was cut from the chicago run but i'm not sure.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-02 18:52:34


The artwork is right here: http://59e59.org/

Sure. The song list was as follows:

All The Livelong Day
Delivery (Lin-Manuel Miranda's predictable addition, complete with rapping)
Nobody Tells Me How
Brother Trucker
Just a Housewife
Millwork
If I Could've Been
The Mason
It's An Art
Joe
A Very Good Day (Lin-Manuel Miranda's new addition: predictable, but not a bad song by any means)
Cleanin' Women
Fathers and Sons
Something to Point To

I will say that besides the always wonderful Champlin, Marie-France Arcilla is the true stand-out. Her "Millwork" is extraordinary, and probably the most fully realized character of the whole evening. I would see it again simply for these 5 minutes.


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Posted by darquegk 2012-12-02 21:55:07


Are the character sketches of the business executive, the cosmetics saleswoman, and the pothead on the verge of going postal still in the show? When I last saw the show, those three character sketches stood out as being unusually dark for the rest of the piece- the executive considering starting a school to train others to be like him, the saleswoman speaking frankly about how she manipulates her clientele, and the pothead having murder fantasies about his boss.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-02 22:06:22


There's one who fantasizes about killing his voice, but now he's just flaming.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-03 08:36:06


The character is no longer a stoner, but now gay. And still fantasizes to kill his boss. The others are no longer there.

I should correct myself: he doesn't rap in "Delivery". There is a section that feels as if he does, but it's sung.

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Posted by whatever2 2012-12-03 10:08:14


actually, it's not clear that the "former stoner" character is gay -- not an unreasonable interpretation of the creatives' intentions, but also not explicit.

i thought his character was perhaps the show's weakest link -- the bi-polar flip-flops between SNL's Stefan, an Occupier, and James Holmes were annoying. And if he *is* meant to be gay, INCREDIBLY offensive.

Fathers and Sons could be cut.

But overall this was a very pleasant surprise -- the ensemble acting is very strong, and overall the updating works. totally agree about "millwork" and champlin; that piece alone was worth the price of admission, and she shows remarkable talent throughout.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-03 10:11:30


I do sorta wish (not having seen it, just based on published reports and marketing) they had the talent and integrity to create Working II or Still Working, instead of cannibalizing the original.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-03 11:06:55


Really, whatever? I actually was annoyed with that character because I thought he was so overly stereotypical. And, to be honest, I was a tad offended.

Glad to know someone else loved Millwork as much as I...

Newintown, I will say they really did update quite a lot and make it work "now".

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-03 11:18:58


Even as nice as that might be, iluv, I would have more respect for an original piece than a bastardized semi-collage of the original.

It seems that we see really good new work so rarely, compared with the number of revivals/revisions. As admirable as a good revival may be, it lacks the exciting integrity of a wholly new creation.

I'm curious whether people think this is because of directors'/producers' desire to adapt what they already know, or a perceived demand from audiences to see reruns of familiar work.

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Posted by JoeKv99 2012-12-03 11:20:12


Millwork is an astonishing song- stunned to see it dismissed.

I saw the Chicago production- thought it was pretty good. Certainly made a big impression on the audience. I wasn't blown away by the new songs but Fathers and Sons had an awful lot of the audience in tears.

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-03 11:46:55


Millwork is hands down the best number in the show in its current form.

And Newintown, I would agree with you if this were a higher profile engagement. Certainly.

My question is, though, how many of the monologues were taken word-for-word from Turkel's book? Any? All?

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Posted by ZoeTheGoat 2012-12-03 12:31:31


I'm really excited for this! I just bought a ticket for the opening. I really love this show and hope this production is as good as it sounds.

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Posted by darquegk 2012-12-03 13:31:34


To be honest, I had been led to assume that periodic rewriting and updating was part of the "plan" for the piece. A sort of "revue of review" looking at the economy, the work force, the people, and so on, similar to the way Terkel's book has been revised, expanded and had additional "books" added to it over the years.

Lest we forget, this isn't Working II... it's Working III or even Working IV, if you count the original, the revised film version, the 90s edition and then the 2012 version. Probably in 2030-something there will be another Working, probably with a few new pieces and a few less older ones.

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Posted by whatever2 2012-12-03 13:41:10


iluvtheatertrash: i made the conscious decision not to assume the formerly-stoner-boy character was gay because nowhere that i recall did he express his orientation. i agree that the Stefan component of his (under-developed, schizoid) personality was what we think of as stereotypically gay, but i never assume anyone under 25 is one thing or the other -- i know too many guys in their early 20s who are every bit as wispy, but unequivocally straight.

to quote my own grandfather decades after the 60s and 70s turned his world on its ear: everything's just all different with these kids today!

but, like i said in my original post, your assumption is altogether reasonable -- and, if correct, the character is highly offensive.

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Posted by whatever2 2012-12-03 19:15:44


JoeKV: i just re-read this thread ... where are you seeing millwork "dismissed"??? all i'm reading is (much deserved) love.

newintown: in looking for the elusive dis Joe mentioned, i re-read your post about the show's time being "over". not sure this helps your point of view any, but at the beginning of the performance there is a brief projected narrative explaining studs terkel's original interviews ... it notes that terkel added to his corpus with additional interviews (i think maybe between 2004 and 2008?) and that the show's updates are based on terkel's updates. so it really does kind of work as more-than-a-revival if viewed from that perspective. just my $0.02.

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Posted by LimelightMike 2012-12-03 23:24:44


So, wait, this production HAS a Playbill? I only ask cause I collect them for my binder(s).

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Posted by AEA AGMA SM 2012-12-04 03:48:10


59E59 does not do their programs through Playbill, at least as of the last time I worked there. It is done in house. So there is a program, but it is not a Playbill, and as I recall it was a slightly odd size, not the same size as a Playbill.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-04 09:25:23


Thanks, whatever. I should have been more specific; the show Working as a whole (text, music, lyrics, design, staging) was very much of its time in a wonderful way. It was a flop, but it affected the theatre community significantly. Those songs and monologues were heard at auditions for a few decades, and regional/amateur groups took it to heart for some time as well.

Of course it can be updated, just like Company and other shows that are significantly of their time can be, but they'll never achieve the same impact they had originally.

I'm not saying "never do revivals" (although I clearly feel that audiences, directors,and producers prefer them to new work these days); but I think it's advisable to remember that you can almost never catch lightning in a bottle twice.

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Posted by whatever2 2012-12-04 10:01:09


totally fair points ... i just wanted to put it out there that the revisions in the source material have the potential to put this "revisal" in somewhat different category.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-04 10:05:13


Perhaps; I can't speak for the book, but if the song list posted here is accurate, then it would not be eligible for a Best Score Tony, were someone to try to produce it on Broadway. Not with only 2 new songs. Even with revised lyrics and orchestrations, most of the score is old.

That's sort of my point - if you want to do a new Working, why not do an entirely new Working? That would be a more impressive accomplishment.

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Posted by JoeKv99 2012-12-04 10:14:58


"Apart from the opening and the closing number i feel like all the songs are boring and don't give us enough of each character to really feel anything about them."

That was the remark I was reacting to.

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Posted by newintown 2012-12-04 10:21:30


It is a strange comment, particularly considering how each of the songs is more or less written as an ideal cabaret-style, 1-act story. You may not aesthetically like "Nobody Tells Me How," "Housewife," "It's An Art," "Millwork," etc., but you can't say that they don't each tell full stories or create full characters.

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Posted by SonofRobbieJ 2012-12-04 10:33:32


newintown, I think you've hit the nail on why an all-new WORKING isn't something anyone would really be into. Because 'Millwork,' Housewife,' 'It's an Art,' etc. are such wonderful songs that no one could imagine not being in something called WORKING.

I saw Lin-Manuel sing the Delivery song at an event at Zankel Hall a couple of years ago, and I thought it was terrific. Yes...very much in his wheelhouse, but it was extremely effective as a snapshot of this kid who dreams of more while delivering food. And it did make me think that a mixture of half new tunes by a bunch of different writers and the 'classics' from this score would be a really interesting evening.

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Posted by darquegk 2012-12-04 10:35:13


This new Working "is" technically billed as a new show, for now: WORKING 2012. MTI licenses this version and the 90s version, though the original 70s version is no longer available at all (though the only missing song is Neat to be a Newsboy, and a few monologues- the 90s version is actually a fuller, longer show than the 70s apparently).

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Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2012-12-04 13:34:31


The problem isn't Miranda's songs, but that they are the only new songs and therefore stand out and don't necessarily blend with the others.

I would have to say that some of the characters didn't feel fully rounded yet, but it WAS their fist preview. The Mill Worker, however, is an extraordinary performance and you know everything you need to about this character.

The program is indeed different - it's a lot like the Vineyard's programs, just much more colorful. And the song list I posted is exactly what I saw that evening. I'm one of those geeks who checks the song list throughout the performance.

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Posted by After Eight 2012-12-07 00:34:47


A labored musical about labor.

The original production was well directed and designed, which helped-- in part --- draw attention away from the mawkish, trite, material. Now, in a scaled-down production, it's all too keenly felt.

The songs now feel dated and sappy. Fathers and Sons is a mush overdose. The new songs are undistinguished.

In the good old days of musicals, people didn't grouse all evening long. They sang songs about life being just a bowl of cherries and the best things in life being free.

And musicals were better for it.

And audiences luckier, for sure.