Menomonee Falls - The musical can be uplifting at times, and downright depressing at others, similar to the working world.
The ups and downs of being a member of the working class are brought to life during the Menomonee Falls High School Theater Department's presentation of "Working, the Musical."
Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Chicago hero Studs Terkel, "Working" is a musical exploration of 26 people from all walks of life from a UPS delivery man to a housewife who feels trapped and underappreciated in her daily life. The musical, which features songs written by artists such as Stephen Schwartz, who is known for his work in "Godspell" and "Wicked," is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Menomonee Falls High School Auditorium.
The 16-member cast is complemented with a small rock orchestra made up of five people and a 15-person crew that has been rehearsing since February.
Unique challenge for actors
"Working" is a unique and challenging production for the high school's theater students, said Director Mark Brooks, who has been assisting in the theater department for 30 years. Instead of a student embodying a single, fictional character for the entire production, they are portraying real people with real stories. The overarching message of the production is that each job has a meaning and serves a function for someone else.
Brooks said the theme can be similar to picturing a large building that takes numerous people with varying roles to function. The musical puts the pieces of the working world together and shows how one is just as important as another.
"It's a real comment on life and the working public in general," Brooks said. "It's a musical everyone can relate to and a different style of show."
Sophomore Jessica Szuminski, who plays a waitress that loves her job, said she was tentative about the musical at first because there was not a single plot line. However, once the stories began to come alive on stage complemented by music, her outlook changed.
"The musical is really wonderful and the stories are really great to hear," Jessica said.
Juggling multiple roles
Compared with last year's production of "Into the Woods," that had a large cast with varying roles, "Working," is a group effort. To bring the stories of the working folk to life, each cast member has to portray one or two people throughout the play while doing backup and ensemble roles for the additional characters.
"Each kid has one or two main characters they portray," Brooks said. "They are working together."
This is the first musical Jessica has tackled, after performing in the fall play. Her role as a waitress is about four minutes long. She also has a shorter monologue and small parts that add to her fellow working men and women.
"The characters are all so different with their jobs that even if it's not the job you have, there's someone everyone can relate to," she said.
WHAT:"Working, the Musical"
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. May 3, 4 and 5 and 1:30 p.m. May 6
WHERE: Menomonee Falls High School Auditorium, N8101 Merrimac Drive
TICKETS: $8 for students, $10 for adults; available at the door
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