“Working” is good, but not without flaws

Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

10/03/2019

By Hallie Lauer | Managing Editor

Last weekend, the Bricolage theater Downtown hosted Working: A Musical for three nights only.

Working follows the lives of real working professionals in their everyday jobs. Based on testimonials from real people, the show features people working in jobs that vary from masonry to teaching to a stay-at-home mother and everything in between.

This show poses a question to the audience: Are people their jobs? Or are they more than what they do?

The characters play real people who told these stories, but for the sake of the show their names were changed. It gives the show this “Humans of New York” type feel in the way that these people just open up about their jobs.

One character, a stay-at-home mom, sings a song called “Just a Housewife,” which discusses how even though her job is hard, she wishes people would recognize that and she could stop saying that she’s “just a housewife” when asked what it is that she does for a living.

This show originally opened on Broadway in the ‘70s and honestly, that shows. Some of the jokes are outdated and only hit with the older crowd in the audience, while others are downright problematic at this point.

The one character, a UPS driver, makes a joke about scaring girls who are tanning by the pool in hopes that they might jump up without their tops on. Certain parts like this could and should be rewritten for a modern audience.

On that note, because this show is based off of stories from actual people, I would love to see a new adaptation where they take new stories from modern workers.

The set for this show is minimal, mostly just desks and chairs that move in and out of the scene depending on what job is being described.

My main issue with the show comes not from the actual production itself, but from the theater. The tech box is right in line with the audience chairs, and a light was left on the entire time. Because Bricolage is such a small theater, this proved rather distracting, especially when the scene called for a total blackout, as that was nearly impossible with the tech lights.

Unfortunately this light was distracting throughout the entire show and at times I found myself watching those working in the tech booth rather than those on stage.

However, I was impressed with the final product.

This show involves few entire cast numbers, which have rather simplistic dance moves. In their defense though, most of the cast members are professionals with other jobs — including Duquesne’s very own Scott Metzger, an adjunct professor in the business school.

Metzger plays a few different characters throughout the musical, as most cast members do, and plays them convincingly. If I hadn’t known going into this that he didn’t act full time, I never would have guessed it.

Despite two songs in the show being written by my musical idol, Lin Manuel-Miranda, I wasn’t overly impressed with the score.

The cast did a great job with it, but the music itself was rather lacking. It worked as a device to move the plot along and further the characters’ stories, but it never made me really feel any strong emotions.

Working is one of those shows that you happen to go see, when you have nothing else to do. It was interesting and I’m glad I went, but it isn’t something I would intentionally seek out. This is to no fault of the cast; they did great with what they had, however, the show itself could use a facelift.

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