Fall Musical Working Finds Huge Success on Stage

Forest Ma, Writer

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WA’s Theater Arts put on four sold-out-shows of the musical Working, by Studs Terkel, through November 9 – 12 with rapturous receptions from fellow parents, peers, and faculty members.

The shows were performed at Worcester Academy’s recently built Performance Center and attracted audiences that filled the venue. Reservations were necessary to host the crowds of theater enthusiasts. Those without reservations formed long lines, and some even sat on the floor of the stage to watch the show.

The company was divided into several departments: actors, stage crew, costume designers, and the pit band. A choreographer was invited to implement dances alongside the singing. The stage crew worked on and off stage with lights, props, etc. The band accompanied the actors with piano, violin, cello, and guitar.

The story of the play revolves around self-identity, specifically with one’s profession and role in society. Unlike other plays that possess a set plot, Working lacks a fixated storyline and instead focuses on the personalities of a number of characters with very different occupations. Despite these drastic differences between characters, the play illustrates equality in society and the fact that everyone should feel a sense of accomplishment for what they have contributed to their respective communities, big or small.

Meeting four to five times a week, the cast was obliged to dedicate much time to the play. Sophomore actor Owen McCarthy describes the experience as what he felt to be a big commitment: “There was a deadline for knowing the music, and there was a deadline for knowing the lines,” Owen said. “There was no time dedicated during rehearsal to learning the lines – it was just expected that you would work outside of rehearsal.”

Owen believes Working is a story that speaks for the personal lives of the general public. “All these people are working so hard and they don’t really have a lot to show for,” Owen said. “They want to have something to point to, which is the name of the [last] song.”

Ms. Melinda Jaz, the upper school theater instructor and director of the play, describes Working as a story of empowerment for all sorts of occupations: “The message is about making sure that people think about and respect people in their professions, whatever those professions may be,” Ms. Jaz said. “Studs Terkel himself says that the show is about celebrating ‘the extraordinary dreams of ordinary people.’”

Ms. Jaz recounts the last song of Working as a symbol of achievement to be shared by all professions: “Everybody should have something that they can point to and say ‘I made that’ or ‘I did that’ or ‘that’s my child who was successful.’”

Ms. Jaz hoped that the audience members were able to relate to the characters, as they represented a complete and diverse society, “I think people of different ages connected to different parts of the story,” Ms. Jaz said, in an effort to explain why the play was so triumphant.

As the fall theater program comes to an end, many are already looking forward to the next theater production – the winter play, for another dazzling display of Worcester Academy artistic talent.