Arts

Monroe County Civic Theater to present 'Working'

POSTED AT 11:54 PM ON Aug. 23, 2012 

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The Monroe County Civic Theater will present the musical “Working” at 8 p.m. Thursday in celebration of Labor Day weekend. “Working,” based on the book by Pulitzer-prize winning author Studs Terkel, is a compilation of interviews with people talking about their lives and their jobs.

“We chose Labor Day weekend to honor workers,” MCCT President Sheila Butler said. “It’s an excellent play to do with a great group of people. There are lots of opportunities for people to play small parts.”

Terkel was born in the Bronx on May 16, 1912. He and his family moved to Chicago, where he attended the University of Chicago after graduating from high school. During World War II, Terkel attempted to enlist and was rejected due to a perforated eardrum. He later joined the Red Cross but never served overseas.

Terkel became a familiar voice on the radio during the 1940s.

In the 1960s, he wrote his first book on oral history titled, “Division Street: America.” He wrote “Working” in 1974.

“The show isn’t a story musical at all,” MCCT Treasurer and Director Eric Anderson said. “It is a collection of monologues and songs that were lifted directly from the original book.”

Anderson said the group will be performing the newest version of “Working.” This production brings together 17 performers, varying from professionals to first-
timers.

“Being the treasurer doesn’t take away from working on the show,” Anderson said. “It actually helps me direct the show because it helps me know how much money I can or can’t spend.”

“Working” was adapted to the musical stage for the first time in 1978, according to a press release.

Songwriters Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor helped write the original songs.

Schwartz has written lyrics for songs in popular Disney movies such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Pocahontas” and the Dreamworks film “The Prince of Egypt.” He won two Oscars for his work on “Pocahontas.”

The new version also features two musical numbers by Tony-award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“The version we are performing was produced in Chicago two or three years ago,” Anderson said. “They’ve written a couple new songs to keep it more contemporary.”

“Working” was a musical Butler chose to feature after she saw it in Chicago three years ago.

“I really like it,” Butler said. “I thought it would be a great musical to have in Bloomington.”

There will be four performances of “Working” at the Bloomington Playwrights Project next Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

MCCT, Bloomington’s longest-serving amateur community theater organization, provides opportunities for theatre enthusiasts, students and anyone who is interested in theatre, to get involved.

“Whoever wants to present a play, we are open to their ideas,” Anderson said. “We do Shakespeare, short plays, musicals and lots of other things.”

 

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