Working (musical)


Logo for Working
Music Stephen Schwartz
Craig Carnelia
Micki Grant
James Taylor
Mary Rodgers
Lyrics Stephen Schwartz
Craig Carnelia
Micki Grant
James Taylor
Susan Birkenhead
Book Stephen Schwartz
Nina Faso
Basis Working by Studs Terkel
Productions 1977 Chicago
1978 Broadway
1982 American Playhouse
1999 New Haven
2008 Sarasota
2009 San Diego
2010 Melbourne
2011 Chicago
2011 Los Angeles

Working is a musical with a book by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, music by Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, and James Taylor, and lyrics by Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, Taylor, and Susan Birkenhead.

The musical is based on the Studs Terkel book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974), which has interviews with people from different regions and occupations.


The musical was first staged at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago from December 1977 through February 1978.[1]

It then was produced on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre, opening on May 14, 1978 where it ran for 24 performances and 12 previews. It was directed by Schwartz and choreographed by Onna White, with a cast featuring Patti LuPone, Bob Gunton, Joe Mantegna, Lynne Thigpen, David Patrick Kelly, Robin Lamont, Steven Boockvor, Rex Everhart, Bobo Lewis, Lenora Nemetz, Brad Sullivan, Matt Landers, David Smyrl,[2] Terri Treas and Arny Freeman, an actor who was interviewed in the book. In 1982, Schwartz and Nina Faso adapted the show for a ninety-minute telecast on the PBS series American Playhouse, directed by Schwartz and Kirk Browning and introduced by Terkel.

The musical has undergone several revisions. In March 1999, it was presented at Long Wharf Theater, New Haven, Connecticut, with direction by Christopher Ashley.[3] It had "developmental productions" at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Sarasota, Florida in May 2008 and at the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California, in March 2009. Schwartz revised the musical, which includes two new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.[4][5][6]

A further revised version opened at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Chicago, starting in February 2011 in previews through June, with direction and revisions by Gordon Greenberg.[6] The cast features Gene Weygandt, Barbara Robertson, Emjoy Gavin, and E. Faye Butler.[7][8] The production opened Off-Broadway at the 59E59 Theaters on December 12, 2012, after previews which started on December 1, 2012. Again directed by Gordon Greenberg, the cast features Joe Cassidy, Donna Lynne Champlin, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Nehal Joshi and Kenita Miller.[9]

The musical was produced at the 2nd annual Hollywood Fringe Festival, Los Angeles, in June 2011 by the group theTRIBE.[10][11]

The show's Asian premiere was in Singapore, performed by LASALLE College of the Arts. The production run was at the Creative Cube in September 2011. The show was directed by Tony Knight, musical direction by Ben Kiley, and choreography by Kristy Griffin. The cast included Gimbey Dela Cruz, Taryn Erickson, Linden Furnell, Safia Hanifah, Mina Kaye, Michelle Kraiwitchaicharoen, Timothy Langan, Oda Maria, Elle-May Patterson and James Simpson.[12]


Act 1

In the morning all the workers are getting ready for their jobs (All the Livelong Day). Mike Dillard, a steelworker, talks about the dangers of his job. Some people get caught in a (Traffic Jam) on the highway. Some of the cars stop at an office building where Al Calinda, a parking lot attendant is working. He parks the cars and states that he has been parking cars his whole life, and probably will for the rest of his life (Lovin Al). On top of the parking lot there is an office building. Amanda McKenny is displeased that people stereotype her with her job. She has a strained relationship with her boss, Rex Winship, who tells us he wants to be a teacher. Rose Hoffman, a teacher who has one year left until retirement, is unhappy with the changes she sees in the school system (Nobody Tells Me How). She remembers a student of hers, Babe Secoli, who is now a checker at the Treasure Island Supermarket. Babe explains that her job requires work from every part of the body (I'm Just Movin). Her bag boy, Roberto Nunez, is unhappy with the music that is playing in the market, which is the Cuban Revolution celebratory song along with the hardships of working on a farm and hopes a better day will come (Un Mejor Dia Vendra). In the neighborhood, Conrad Swibel is on his UPS delivery route, talking about the perks of his job: meeting women, and the bad parts, getting chased by dogs. After he leaves, John Rushton delivers the newspaper and tells of his dreams for the future (Neat to be a Newsboy). His mother, Kate Rushton, a housewife, who complains that people doubt her intelligence because she chooses to stay at home all day (Just a Housewife). Candy Cottingham says that she needs to separate people from their jobs for her job as a political fundraiser. Grace Clements explains that she does not want to see any young people doing her job as a millworker because of the physical stress on the body (Millwork). As evening rolls in, all the workers remember their dreams of old (If I Could've Been).

Act 2

Anthony Coelho likes his job because in a hundred years people will still see his work (The Mason). On the highway, Frank Decker and Dave are driving their truck (Brother Trucker). Frank explains that he barely sees his family because of his schedule. He makes a call and because of the signal is transferred to the operator, Heather Lamb. She, Sharon Atkins, and Enid DuBois explain that sometimes it's hard not to listen in on phone conversations. Dolores Dante loves her job and is proud to be a waitress (It's an Art). At the park Joe Zutty, a retired man, talks about his life (Joe). He spends his days as a volunteer firefighter. Tom Patrick, who also works as a firefighter, gets emotional talking about the lives he saved. Maggie Holmes talks about wanting a better life for her daughter (Cleanin' Woman). Finally, Ralph Werner recounts his dream life. Mike Dillard comes back and relates how much time he has missed with his family because of work (Fathers and Sons). The ensemble boasts about their accomplishments as workers (Something to Point To).

Musical numbers

Act 1
  • All The Livelong Day – Company (Stephen Schwartz)
  • Traffic Jam - People in Traffic (James Taylor)
  • Lovin' Al – Al and His Ladies (Micki Grant)
  • Nobody Tells Me How - Rose Hoffman (Susan Birkinhead & Mary Rodgers)
  • I'm Just Movin' - Babe & Other Checkers (Schwartz)
  • Un mejor Dia Vendra - Roberto Nunez & Migrant Workers (Taylor, Matt Landers, & Graciella Danielle)
  • Neat to be a Newsboy – John Rushton and Newsboys (Schwartz)
  • Just A Housewife - Kate Rushton and Housewives (Craig Carnelia)
  • Millwork- Singer & Millworkers (Taylor)
  • If I Could've Been - Company (Grant)

Act 2
  • The Mason – Anthony Coelho (Carnelia)
  • Brother Trucker - Frank Decker, Dave McCormick & Truckers (Taylor)
  • It's an Art - Delores Dante and Customers (Schwartz)
  • Joe – Joe (Carnelia)
  • Cleanin' Women - Maggie Holmes & Women Company (Grant)
  • Fathers & Sons – Mike Dillard & Male Company (Schwartz)
  • Something to Point To - Company (Carnelia)

Additional songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda - "A Very Good Day" and "Delivery" performed in Chicago

Characters (In Alphabetical Order)

There are 40 characters in all, but the production is traditionally performed with only 17 actors and actresses.

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1978 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Stephen Schwartz Nominated
Best Original Score Stephen Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Steven Boockvor Nominated
Rex Everhart Nominated
Best Scenic Design David Mitchell Nominated
Best Lighting Design Ken Billington Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Matt Landers Nominated
Brad Sullivan Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Bobo Lewis Won
Lenora Nemetz Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Stephen Schwartz Won


  1. De Gare, Carol.Defying Gravity:the Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked, (2008), "Working chapter", Music Dispatch, ISBN 1-55783-745-7, pp.158-174, accessed October 31, 2010
  2. "David Smyrl Dies at 80; Played Mr. Handford on 'Sesame Street'". New York Times (Associated Press). 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  3. Marks, Peter."Review, 'Working The Musical'"The New York Times, March 17, 1999, reprint in The New York Times Theatre Reviews 1999-2000, Taylor & Francis, 2002, ISBN 0-415-93697-7 (
  4. Machray, Robert.'Working' review, April 2, 2009
  5. Listing Old Globe Theatre, accessed October 31, 2010
  6. 1 2 Jones, Kenneth."Director Gordon Greenberg Talks About New Revision of Musical Working, Bowing in Chicago in 2011", December 22, 2010
  7. Jones, Kenneth.Small-Cast Working, Singing of American Workers, Opens in Chicago; Is NYC Next?", March 2, 2011
  8. Weiss, Hedy."Superb ‘Working’ explores what we do, who we are" Chicago Sun-Times, March 16, 2011
  9. Gioia, Michael. "Revised 'Working', With New Songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opens Off-Broadway Dec. 12", December 12, 2012
  10. Working
  11. "'Working:The Musical' 2011"], accessed December 13, 2012
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