Joy hangs over this production of the revised script of Stephen Schwartz’s musical, ‘Working,” often for things that have nothing to do with the play itself. A mainstay of the Falls Church artistic community, Creative Cauldron prepares to move into a new, dedicated space. This production feels so much like a victory lap. As the group closes their time at the makeshift Maple Street black box, “Working” is a bright celebration of the community that made that space so special.
…a bright celebration of the community that made that space so special…a fitting commemoration for the theater’s bright future.
The show itself is as simple as the name. It’s about working. The initial script, based on historian Studs Terkel’s 1974 book, delves into the lives of many classic American workers. Truck drivers, waiters, mill-workers, masons, and more all opine about their love and hate of their chosen professions, providing an intimate view into the life of an average person. This version, based on Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2012 revision, includes a few more contemporary professions (a DoorDash driver and care workers), as well as provides space for local communities to speak to their own working experience. Between each number in this locally-themed version, citizens of Falls Church have recorded their own testimonials of their working experience. These little snapshots link the text back to its community, making it feel more like a chronicle of Falls Church than expected.
The numbers and scenes themselves are staged, relatively speaking, traditionally. A strong use of projections is the biggest change, which helps add some realism and background to different scenes. From that, the remainder of Margie Jervis’ design is strong but economical, taking a back seat to the performances themselves. There are some great moments when the cast gets to shine. Molly Rumberger delivers two spectacular performances, bringing a weary sadness to a stay-at-home mom, and star-making sparkle to a devoted waitress. Tony Lemus is equally deft, bringing a considered stoicism to his turn as a father. Though the show provides a lot of opportunity for stand out, the meshing together of ensemble surprisingly stood out. The uniformity of moves and the quality of harmony all helped build that sense of community the show was aiming for.
There is a notable element of stiltedness in this play, but one that can be chalked up to the awkwardness of the book over anything else. The remainder of the direction is clean and clear, without any major flaws. Most importantly, it leaves time and space for the community to take center stage. In his post-show remarks, director Matt Conner said, “the show represents so much more than just theatre.” In saying so, he brings up how much theatre means to the community of Falls Church, and the value having a space like that provides. It is a testament to the show that it reflects that joy forward.
The original production of “Working” aimed to highlight the important lives of ordinary, blue-collar people. Creative Cauldron’s version maintains that, while also celebrating the community around our workaday lives that makes the work worth doing. This production is a fitting commemoration for the theater’s bright future.
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
“Working” runs through March 3, 2014 at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Avenue, Retail 116, Falls Church, VA 22046), Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and at 2 pm and 7 pm on Sundays. For more information and to purchase ticket, go online. There is also a special, live stream performance on March 2 at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased here.