In Working, the 1977 Stephen Schwartz musical that is playing a limited engagement at New York City Center, the cast of workers that are portrayed in the show has been expanded to included some faces that are more familiar to the theater goers who frequent City Center. They are security guards, ticket takers, and ushers whose stories are woven into the fabric of the once short-lived musical that has taken on a new life with the stellar cast and heartfelt production that is being presented as the first in the Encores Off-Center series this year.
Because it weaves together the original story at the additions, Working feels more like a revue and less like your typical musical. The underlying theme of the production is how the people whose stories are told get through their jobs. While they may come from different backgrounds and have different stories, it is powerful in the theme; what it means to work.
With new songs from the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as Stephen Schwartz's original score, the best moments in the show are the songs. Backed up by some terrific choreography from a four person ensemble, it is visually stunning and emotionally powerful as the actors embody different people.
While the meaning of work is what binds the show together, there is another underlying bond in this production, and that is New York City Center. In between songs, as we meet those who work in the same place the audience is sitting, a new appreciation is gained for everyone in that building, as well as some new knowledge about various jobs you can have in the theater. But at the very end, when the doors that have been the backdrop are fully revealed, you realize why you may have seen them before. The doors are those of New York City Center. And there couldn't be a perfect setting for the show.