Stephen Schwartz’s Working A Musical has clocked in to The Southwark Playhouse for its European premiere, directed by Luke Sheppard. Reworked from its original off Broadway production, it tells the stories of the, often overlooked, average worker.

Based on Studs Terkel’s book of interviews with real American workers, we get snapshots of working life. From the steelworker to the project manager, they all have their stories to tell, and hopes and dreams to fulfil. This means you won’t find a full storyline, although each segment does flow nicely in to the next and the whole thing feels more than coherent.

Monologues, song and dance combine to make one fantastic show, Fabian Aloise’s stunning choreography is perfect for the Southwark Playhouse stage. It never feels too big, but neither do you feel it constrained. Each moment of movement feels so carefully considered and purposeful.

The workers we meet want to be proud of their output, and if anyone deserves to be proud it’s the six young performers, making their professional debut. The graduates; Luke Latchman, Izuka Hoyle, Nicola Espallardo, Patrick Coulter, Huon Mackley and Kerri Norville are just phenomenal to watch. In fact, it would have been nice to see a little more of them, particularly in the next generation scene, but they really were working what they had.

Each of the main cast bring their own something special. Siubhan Harrison stops everyone in their tracks with a gorgeous performance of “Millwork”, while Peter Polycarpou leaves barely a dry eye in the house with “Fathers and Sons”.

There’s plenty to enjoy from Liam Tamne with “Delivery”, and just a few scenes later he’s making us reflect as he plays the social care nurse, doing the job no-one else wants to do.

There’s literally so much packed into this ninety minute performance. Bittersweet contemplation from Krysten Cummings with “Just a Housewife”, an American spirit in “Brother Trucker” from Dean Chisnall to a show-stopping One Woman Show from Gillian Bevan.

Every song stands up on its own, and additional songs, from the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda blend in perfectly with the work of the original composers.

There’s nothing not to like about Working, the high energy production blended with stark realism, makes this American import a revelation for British Theatre.

Working A Musical is a must-see before it hangs up its boots and clocks out, because the cast, the choreography and the beautiful score will not fail to make you look at people differently, whatever their profession.

Production Photos – Robert Workman

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