Working by Sedos at The Bridewell Theatre
Working is a musical that is based on a series of interviews in 1974 that took place with a cross section of Americans about their working life. Fast forward to 2007-2008 and further interviews were carried out. Stephen Schwartz along with help from his friends, including Lin Manual Miranda set these interviews to music and produced a musical about the everyday lives of ordinary people.
The beautiful thing about this musical is that as the focus was on the ordinary person you felt like you were able to relate to the characters on stage. Throughout the show it was as if I could see myself, a friend or family members saying what the characters were portraying. A huge cross section of occupations were covered, from long haul truck drivers to waitresses and from socialites to factory workers. Sometime we just saw a short glimpse into their world and others we were left with a whole number dedicated to their profession.
The cast was made up of 8 performers, each taking on so many different roles within the show that I lost count, they all went from fronting a number one moment to being a vital part of the ensemble in another performers number the next. Often in shows with casts around this size there are one or two forgettable performers but this was not the case in Working. Not only can I picture all of the cast easily now but I can tell you which occupations they played throughout the show, a testament to how engaging each of them were individually.
Kate Gledhill delivered the number ‘Just A Housewife,’ and this really enabled the audience to see just what a powerful singer she was, equally Olga-Marie Pratt sang ‘Millwork,’ which just made my heart break for her factory worker character and all of those in that position. Sam Sugarman took on the role of Joe, a retired man and brought such warmth to the character. I also loved that they used him later in the show as the reoccurring elderly figure to help weave the pieces together. Georgia Blessitt saved one of her big numbers for the end, ‘Cleanin’ Women’ and the sound of Georgia’s voice in that number helped cement the number as one of my favourites of the evening.
I would also like to commend Sedos for the racial diversity on stage. I know Sedos have been working hard alongside other London am dram companies to improve the racial diversity of their society and this commitment paid off in this show. Working is a show that needs to reflect America and that includes having performers of colour on stage in order to stay true to the heart of the show and I was pleased to see that Sedos did just that.
The transitions between the numbers were well thought out by director Jacob Hajjar and and I enjoyed how they flowed seamlessly into one another, avoiding any unnecessary and long blackouts. This kept the pace snappy and helped the show have a more cohesive feel. My only minor criticism was that at times I thought the larger moveable set items were overused. Not only did they take time to get onto stage but they were also noisy and didn’t add much to the show. It could have been kept simpler but just as effective with just the 2 sets of stairs.
Tess Robinson was the movement director for Working. Her strongest moments were the stylised moments, in particular the repetitive movement that the factory workers performed during ‘Millwork’ and many of the movements performed during ‘All The Livelong Days’ to symbolise different professions.
Working is a show rarely put on so this is a great opportunity to see songs by the likes of Schwartz and Lin Manual Miranda performed and with Sedos at the helm they take you on a journey of emotions from empathy to laughter but most of all leaving you able to relate to those on stage.
Working is on until 30th October at the Bridewell Theatre. To find out more and to buy tickets you can visit their website.