It's only appropriate that the revised edition of Working, the musical based on legendary reporter Studs Terkel's 1974 book of interviews with real working Chicagoans, would extend in Chicago. The American Theater Company, presenting this version of the Stephen Schwartz-Nina Faso musical, will host the production through Jan. 14, instead of closing Dec. 16 as originally announced. ATC's producing artistic director Brian Russell directs with musical direction by Mark Elliott.
But in 1999, Working the show was updated with additional material about new kinds of workers and with two new songs. This new production, which debuted at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre, makes references to "You've Got Mail" and e-mail jokes sent through the office, as well as a lament from a teacher of 42 years who notes that kids today leave their guns and drugs at the school door metal detectors. The new songs are Stephen Schwartz' "I'm Just Movin'" and pop songwriter James Taylor's "Traffic Jam."
Working covers the average day of various professionals from a parking lot attendant and a luggage worker to a mason and, perhaps most famously, “just a” housewife. Taylor wrote three of the show's original tunes - "Brother Trucker," "Millwork" and "Un Mejor Dia Cendra," co created with Graciela Daniele and Matt Landers. Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell) penned "Fathers and Sons" and "It's an Art," as well as "I Hear America Singing" from the Walt Whitman poem. Mary Rogers (Once Upon a Mattress) and Susan Birkenhead (Triumph of Love) wrote "Nobody Tells Me How" and Craig Carnelia contributed "Just a Housewife," "The Mason" and "Something to Point Out." Micki Grant (Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope) composed "Cleanin' Women," "Lovin' Al" and "If I Could've Been," a cumulative number for all the workers.
Starring in Working are Tom Geraty, Marty Higginbotham, James Leaming, John Sterchi, Matthew Brumlow, Sonya Evans, Jennifer Haering, Robin Payne, Editha Rosario, Nanci Carol Ruby, Danniele Truberg and Anthony Wills.
Performances of Working began Nov. 14 with an opening Nov. 30. Tickets are $25-$20. The American Theater Company is located at 1909 West Byron at Lincoln. For reservations, call (773) 929-1031. American Theater Company is on the web at http://www.atcweb.org. — By Christine Ehren