BWW Review: WORKING: A MUSICAL at Meadow Brook Theatre Is A Thought-Provoking Exploration of The Modern American Workforce
Working: A Musical, running now through March 8th at Meadow Brook Theatre, is a thought-provoking exploration of the modern American workforce. Based on Studs Terkel's best-selling book of interviews with American workers, Working paints a vivid portrait of the men and women that the world so often takes for granted: the schoolteacher, the phone operator, the waitress, the millworker, the mason, and the housewife - just to name a few. Nominated for six Tony Awards, this classic has been updated for a modern age.
Although I have never seen this musical before, I had very high expectations walking into the theatre. I knew that one of the contributing minds for this musical was musical-theatre innovator Lin Manuel-Miranda. Meadow Brook Theatre surpassed my expectations tenfold. The powerhouse cast mixed with the phenomenal set and stand-out set make this show a must-see.
The story of Working takes the audience on a journey into the lives of a cast array of characters and their jobs: a construction worker, a mason, a housewife, a food delivery driver, a teacher and many more. The audience is able to empathize with these characters as they sing accurately about the daily struggles and enjoyments of their 9 to 5. All eight voices on the stage sand beautifully. Soloists delivered powerful lyrics, and all singers were in great harmony during the larger group numbers.
The first individual standout I noticed in this show was Gregory Rodriguez playing the role of Man 2. The audience is first introduced to Rodriguez as a food delivery driver. Rodriguez sings in perfect pitch during his solo "Delivery", in which he tells the audience about how much he likes his job as a food delivery driver, and how he saves his tip money in hopes of living a brighter future than his parents had. The sure enthusiasm in Rodriguez's voice is enough to recognize him as a standout in this piece. As fluid as Rodriguez' voice is, his acting is top notch as well. The audience will be able to feel as if they are living in the same body as Rodriguez throughout the entire show. His mannerisms and expressions onstage are that transparent. Rodriguez' soft and soothing voice shines bright again in the second act of the show, when he sings "A Very Good Day". It is evident that Rodriguez is a true professional, and I look forward to seeing him again in the future.
Another incredible standout in the show is Yemie Sonuga, playing the role of Woman 2. Much like Rodriguez, Sonuga possesses a very soothing, yet powerful voice. Her voice resembles the likes of Alicia Keys or Macy Gray. I was truly moved during her performance of "Just a Housewife", in which she sings about how the world looks down upon housewives and belittles women that are stay-at-home moms. In the second act of the show she brings down the house yet-again with her rendition of "Cleanin' Women".
I would recommend Working to anybody who is looking to be entertained by a different type of musical. The audience will be blown away by the powerhouse voices, bold acting choices, and phenomenal set.
Working: A Musical runs at Meadow Brook Theatre on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester now through March 8th, 2020. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 248-377-3300.
*Show information courtesy of Meadow Brook Theatre.