Directed by Mary Hatch and musically directed by Marc Beth, this year’s musical production at Elgin Community College is the 2012 musical adaption of “Working”, a story based on the experiences of workers in America.
Shows will run Feb. 23-25, and March 2-4 in the Second Space Theatre. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for students/seniors.
The origin is a novel by Studs Terkel, “Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about it,” published in 1974.
Terkel interviewed over 100 individuals from the official business man to the low-income peasant job. Overall it has spoken to many people and is noted as being relatable even now, 44 years later.
When asked how Working was chosen for ECC, Beth says it relates to the current economic struggle and tackles the controversies of job entitlement.
Both directors agreed this production has been very difficult.
“The music [was] extraordinarily challenging,” Hatch said.
The task of building an emotional arc for all the characters in such a comprised form was another challenge that she mentioned.
According to Beth there was about a 30% shift of modernization since the first version of this musical in 1977. Removing the newspaper boy and adding in a food delivery guy is an example of one of those modern tweaks.
“I love the show now,” said Karen Almanza, a student in her seventh show at ECC, playing the character Roberta. “I’ve developed a better appreciation for the work… [and] it needs to get more credit than it does.”
Almanza states that Roberta is a relatable character because she, too, experienced insecurities when she was younger that led her to the path she’s on now.
“I thought it would be challenging [because] there was no real story,” said Mike Cleghorn, a student in his second show at ECC, primarily playing the character Freddy Rodriguez.
Cleghorn explained that with so many characters the story was more like a giant quilt of many small pieces rather than being focused on one large piece.
“You have to portray a character with that one song, that one monologue,” Cleghorn adds, furthering his point.
Cleghorn says that a challenge him and the rest of the cast had to face was the constant switching of characters, having to switch mindsets and knowing which one to use when.
Cleghorn also comments that “the desire to be free” is a trait that makes these characters so relatable to him and many others.
Overall, the show is realistic and will the teach the audience more about the people around them.
“[It] helped me to learn about professions I never thought of,” Beth said, who became more and more fascinated with the show as he worked on it.
“We wanted to celebrate working people,” Hatch said, with the hope that people will walk away from this show knowing the struggles of both men and women today.