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BWW Review: WORKING at the Alliance Theatre Tells ATL's Story

This version features a new song written by Stephen Schwartz for Atlanta

BWW Review: WORKING at the Alliance Theatre Tells ATL's Story

Broadway opens again in a few weeks, concerts are being scheduled again, and The Alliance is performing WORKING: A MUSICAL - the theatre is coming back soon! While we may not be back in front of a velvet curtain yet, WORKING: A MUSICAL under the tent teases normalcy while delivering a Coca-Cola Stage-worthy performance.

With songs written by WICKED's Stephen Schwartz, HAMILTON's Lin-Manuel Miranda, WORKING composer Craig Carnelia, and a host of other talented writers and composers, the show has a distinct patchwork style that perfectly complements the incredible character variety.

Without a main character, or even very many named characters, WORKING follows the everyday employee as they work for a living. From construction worker to teacher to delivery driver to housewife to dozens of different professions, the show follows six ensemble members gliding one work story into another effortlessly.

Like a charismatic, well-oiled machine, the six ensemble members cultivate a magnetic stage presence together as they play and perform. Jewl Carney is an absolute powerhouse as she balances a working mother doing her best to make ends meet with a ruthless business executive. Courtenay Collins crafts unforgettably funny yet touching stories as she sings about the woes of teaching and the joys of waitressing. Last but not least, Tawana Montgomery moves mountains to tears with her visceral performances as "just" a housewife and an impassioned spiritual leader.

On the men's side of the stage, Brad Raymond's incredible vocal work breathes life into a hilariously fun chauffeur and an elderly man struggling with retirement. Rob Lawhorn impeccably nails the physical and emotional idiosyncrasies of both an earnest fireman and a raucous truck driver. And finally, Eddy Rioseco plays heartstrings like a harp as a driven and vivacious delivery driver and a passionately hopeful produce picker.

With small props like mugs and bags and easily switched costume accessories like aprons and hats, big shifts in the show are easy to follow. There may only be six actors on stage, but there are dozens of recognizable characters.

What makes this production of WORKING so special i the inclusion of real stories from real Atlantans. Leading into and between songs, standing alone as monologues, and even singing along via recording, local Atlantans participated in the show in real-time.

Overlapping with the actors, recordings of local Atlantans played often, usually leading up to songs. It was strange at first, but hearing an outside voice that you knew came from nearby added an unexpected level of intimacy to the show.

During a few of the songs, a recorded choir of local voices chimed in with the live ensemble and band to add both a vocal and emotional depth. Even though most of the songs had been written without Atlanta in mind, everything about the show felt distinctly ATL.

What felt the most ATL was the song specifically written for this Alliance production titled "5 Things." Without giving away any spoilers, it speaks the incredible power of the people of Georgia, and specifically Atlanta. The beat made my heart leap, the energy of the lyrics made my spirit soar, and the pride the actors have while performing made me so incredibly thankful to live here in Atlanta. It reminded me how grateful I am to call this city my home.

If you're craving an as-close-to-normal-as-humanly-possible-right-now theatre experience full of incredible music, amazing performances, and a powerful message, then WORKING at The Alliance Theatre is the perfect show to scratch that itch.


WORKING runs through June 6 as part of Alliance Theatre's "Under the Tent" series. Visit www.alliancetheatre.org for more information and to purchase tickets.


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