Reviewed by Judy Richter
Author Studs Terkel's "Working" is a compilation of interviews of people in all walks of life. Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso adapted it and shaped it into a musical that opened on Broadway in 1978. With songs by Schwatrz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers & Susan Birkhead and James Taylor, it selects more than 20 of those people to talk and sing about what they do and how they feel about it.
Foothill Music Theatre and the Foothill Theatre Arts Department use it as a showcase for their students, graduates and other community members as well as a way to entertain their audiences. Despite limited financial resources and some technical glitches on opening night, the production achieves its goals.
Perhaps the primary unifying character is Mike Dillard (Peter K. Owen), a steelworker who takes great pride in his job, especially since it's something he can show his son and say, "I helped build that." One of the more memorable characters is Rose Hoffman (Linda Piccone), a longtime elementary school teacher who is finding that the methods that worked for her in the past no longer work with a new generation of students, many of whom don't have English as their primary language. Piccone also is the most polished performer in the cast.
Although director Milissa Carey paces the action well, the show is missing its potential impact because so many of the actors are relatively young and inexperienced. Musical director Mark Hanson leads the small orchestra from a screened off area on the side of the stage. The simple choreography is by Michael Ryken. The lighting (one of the problem areas) and set are by Bruce McLeod with sound (another problem area) by Mikael Lassi and costumes by Julie Engelbrecht.
Although this isn't one of FMT's more memorable productions, it's still worth seeing for the intrinsic quality of "Working" itself.