I’ve got good news for you. You don’t have to go to the West End to see one of the best shows of the year. Working, a musical written in 1977 by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso has opened at Upstairs at The Gatehouse in Highgate and it is pure joy.
Produced, directed and choreographed by Amanda Noar – a Jewish actress with impressive credits of her own -the show is based on Jewish author Studs Terkel’s book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974). Terkel, who won a Pulitzer Prize, was also a broadcaster and it is his interviews with people about their various occupations that provide the bedrock for this insightful and authentic musical filled with songs written by Schwartz and others including James Taylor and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The signature style of each writer shines through the songs, many of them solos delivered by the ‘workers’ mostly blue collar (fireman, waitress, carer, cleaner etc) who are surviving while secretly longing for more. “Everyone should have something to point to” they conclude in unison, verbalising the physical legacy we all dream of achieving.
Under the banner of her theatre company Impact, Noar has assembled a ridiculously talented cast and allowed them to excel individually and as an ensemble. With only scaffolding for a set and no costumes to speak of, other than hats and aprons, the actors totally immerse themselves in the characters and convince with every word and gesture. The cast also dances and Noar’s routines enhance each story. To single out individuals feels churlish as they are all amazing, but Hannah Chapman’s waitress, Ryan Owen’s fast food server and Mikey Wooster’s lamenting retiree are all memorable. I defy anyone not to cry when Kris Marc Joseph delivers Schwartz Fathers and Sons or sob through Shivam V Patel’s A Very Good Day by Lin-Manuel for that is the power of Working. Sadly the show only runs until September 22, so if anyone you know has a ticket – steal it from them.
www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com / tel: 020 8340 3488
View the Working trailer – https://vimeo.com/357444904