Sunday, July 7, 2013

Working, Porthouse Theatre

With all the princesses, ogres and assorted criminals who get their own musicals, it’s nice to see the average working person get his and her own time to folic in onstage melodies.

This is one of the several pleasures provided by the musical Working, now at the Porthouse Theatre. It is adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso from the best-selling book by Studs Terkel, in which he transcribed the thoughts, peeves and dreams of white and blue collar Joes and Janes.

The work categories addressed in the show range from a high-end hedge fund manager to a bunch of housewives. But most of the jobs, illuminated in tunes by multiple songwriters, deal with the vast middle-class who work in factories, drive trucks, lay bricks, and teach school.

Sure, it may seem odd to have all these songs of hard-won occupational experience performed by a young cast made up of college students and recent college grads who have yet to experience the delights of fulltime work for years on end. But hey, those princesses, ogres and criminals were never played and sung by their duplicates either.

And even though they’re young, these performers carve out some memorable moments in a show directed and choreographed with wit and just enough movement by Jim Weaver.

Michael Glavan nails the arrogant hedge fund sleaze in an early monologue, and later does just as well with a selfless elder care worker in the song “A Very Good Day” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

As a flight attendant, Shamara Costa finds the latent hostility under that smiling “buh-bye” persona, and also scores as a millworker, in a simple and powerful song by James Taylor highlighting the repetitious work that pays the bills.

One of the best voices is deployed by Tee Boyich, who puts it to good use in “Just a Housewife” by Craig Carnelia. And Jake Wood, Sam Rohloff and Mark Warren Goins bring humanity to Schwartz’s tender “Fathers and Sons.”

When called upon to play old folks, the kids don’t have nearly enough wrinkles or gravitas. But Jessica Benson does well otherwise as the elderly teacher in “Nobody Tells Me How.” And Tim Welsh employs his spot-on timing to make retiree Joe Zutty’s speech a highlight of the evening.

If you’ve worked for a living, inside the house or out, Working is a show that rings many bells. And this production is delivers the goods, for the most part, with energy and consistency.

Through July 20 at the Porthouse Theatre on the campus of Blossom Music Center, 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls, 330-672-3884

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