It’s just another day at work for the Main Street Theater cast as they present Working, a musical based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 book that contained more than 100 interviews with studio executives, stay-at-home moms, waitresses and more.
The book was adapted into a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso in 1977 with songs by Craig Carnelia and James Taylor.
“The musical is a series of vignettes,” Working director Andrew Ruthven said. “It goes from one person to the next, telling their story, what they do for a living and how they feel about it.”
Unlike the original musical, jobs like telephone operators, grocery store checkers and car valets were updated in the 2012 adaptation. But most of the stories are from the original production. The new version also includes two new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his pre-Hamilton years.
Miranda’s songs bring to life new characters from interviews Terkel conducted in the '90s. One is a duet between a healthcare worker and a nanny. “It’s about people who take care of other peoples’ families, while their family is at home,” Ruthven said.
The bigger, recently renovated stage allows for more casting. In the original update, Ruthven said the cast consisted of the three men and three women. For this show, the director decided to double the cast, with each player portraying two or three characters.
Working hit close to home for Main Street Theater Company, as it was the first musical performed in the Rive Village space in 1981, and now it’s the first musical performed in the renovated theater.
“It’s a very moving musical. Most people will laugh and cry—it’s better than Cats,” Ruthven laughed.
Thru June 19, Thursdays to Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. $36–$39. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd. 713-524-6706. mainstreettheater.com