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Bringing Studs Terkel’s Groundbreaking “Working” to Life: A Creative Cauldron Production

In 1974, the renowned American writer, historian, actor, and broadcaster Studs Terkel penned a groundbreaking book focusing on the lives of ordinary workers. Titled “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” this work provided a profound exploration of the often mundane yet challenging existence of everyday American workers. Reading this book had a profound impact on my outlook on life and the individuals who drive its essence.

The enduring influence of Terkel’s book fueled my anticipation to witness the theatrical adaptation by the esteemed Creative Cauldron. Celebrating its 22nd anniversary, this regional theater has consistently captivated audiences with its bold and captivating productions.

Under the direction of the acclaimed Helen Hayes award-winning director Matt Conner, who has been commissioned by Creative Cauldron to craft an original piece for the next five years, Workers emerges as a long-cherished project. The production boasts a highly respected creative team within the local theater scene, featuring Helen Hayes nominees such as Choreographer Stefan Sittig, Music Director Paige Rammelkamp, and Lighting Designer Lynn Joslin.

The intimate stage comes alive with fourteen captivating musical numbers performed by a talented six-person ensemble, showcasing songs from distinguished songwriters including Lin Manuel-Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, and Craig Carnelia.

Sally Imbriano, Erin Granfield, Molly Rumberger, Oscar Salvador, and Chelsea Majors (Photo William T. Gallagher Photography)

The narratives woven through these musical pieces are poignant and emotionally stirring. Conner integrates real-life videos featuring local personalities such as the mayor of Falls Church, the developer of their upcoming theater, a retired government official, and a group of endearing local children sharing their aspirations for the future.

These videos, interspersed with the musical performances, serve to connect the audience with the collective aspirations and dreams of past, present, and future workforce generations.

Sally Imbriano, Chelsea Majors, and Erin Granfield (Photo William T. Gallagher Photography)

The diverse cast of characters includes individuals like Freddy Rodriguez, a diligent fast-food delivery worker; Delores, a dedicated waitress who views her job as an art form; Frank, an interstate trucker struggling to balance work and family; Rose, a passionate third-grade teacher striving to make learning enjoyable; Raj, a tech support specialist; Rex, a pragmatic hedge fund manager; Kate, a devoted stay-at-home mom; Grace, a dedicated millworker; Sharon, a resourceful receptionist; Anthony, a skilled stone mason; Utkarsh, a compassionate eldercare provider; Mike, a father yearning for more family time; Maggie, a diligent cleaning woman; and Theresa, a nurturing nanny caring for others’ children. Together, they represent a tapestry of unfulfilled aspirations and desires.

The dynamic ensemble of six performers effortlessly transitions between multiple roles, showcasing their versatility and talent on stage. Notable performances are delivered by Molly Rumberger, Sally Imbriano, and Erin Granfield, alongside the commendable portrayals by Tony Lemus, Oscar Salvador, and Chelsea Majors.

The production is further enriched by the Scenic and Costume Design by Margie Jervis, the evocative Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin, and the impressive Video Projections and Lighting by James Morrison.