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East Stroudsburg University Department of Theatre to present ‘Working’

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    East Stroudsburg University students rehearse a scene from the musical “Working.” The musical will be performed Wednesday through Nov. 18 in the Smith-McFarland Theatre of ESU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. From left, Deijah Faulkner, Samuel Kashefska, Gabriella Williams, Sarah Thatcher and Ming Li Goldston. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published November 08. 2018 12:17PM

East Stroudsburg University Department of Theatre will present “Working,” a musical based on the best-selling oral history by Studs Terkel, Wednesday through Nov. 18.

The book’s subtitle, “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” describes the focus of the musical which paints a fascinating picture of the core human truths that transcend professions.

Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, with additional contributions from Gordon Greenberg, adapted the book into a musical that was updated in 2012 to reflect the contemporary workplace.

Tony, Grammy and Academy-Award winning composers Schwartz (“Wicked,” “Godspell”) Lin-Manuel Miranda and James Taylor contributed songs to the musical along with Mary Rogers, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant and Susan Birkenhead.

“Not all of the characters are likable and none of them are perfect,” said guest director William Mutimer, an associate professor of humanities and social sciences at Northampton Community College. “But, they are true people with their strengths and faults, fears and joys. Especially now, when accepting people for who they are is being challenged, it is a time to hear from these voices.”

“At first I didn’t like my character,” said Popper. “She’s a negative person, frustrated, angry and confused, but I learned to see her point of view. She loved her job, but is being forced to change and is no longer in control of how she runs her classroom.”

Deijah Faulkner, a junior from East Stroudsburg majoring in theater and minoring in women’s studies, found it easy to relate to her character, Maggie Holmes, a cleaning lady. “

She’s a Southern mother who spent all of her life as a cleaning lady, but wants to be the last one in her family to do this job.

“My grandmother, like many other African-American women, was a cleaning lady,” Faulkner said, “but my mother was the only sibling out of eight to get a career. Maggie is a character that I can connect to and respect.”

Faulkner is also assistant costume designer for the production.

Projections designer Joshua Weidenbaum, a senior from Saylorsburg, majoring in musical and technical theater, chose images to enhance the mood of the production. He said that Yoshinori Tanokura, associate professor and interim chair of theater, designed the set with space for projections in certain scenes, and that Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theater, designed the lighting to work with the projections.

“The images echo the theme, faces of everyday people, and the projections include occupations highlighted in the musical,” Weidenbaum said. “People should be able to look at the projections and say, ‘this could be me.’”

“Working” will be performed in the Smith-McFarland Theatre of ESU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, in East Stroudsburg. This play is recommended for ages 12 and above.

Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Nov. 17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 18. There also is a special “relaxed” performance of the play at 2 p.m. Nov. 17.

A “relaxed” performance is intended specifically to be sensitive to, and accepting of audience members who may benefit from a more stress-free environment, including (but not limited to) those with autistic spectrum conditions; anyone with sensory and communication disorders; or people with learning disabilities.

General admission is $12; senior citizens, faculty and staff (with ID) are $10; students (with ID) are $7; and youth are $5. For the “relaxed” performance, admission prices are $10, $8, $6, and $4.

Tickets are available online in advance at esu.edu\ theatretickets (credit cards only online). Remaining tickets are available at the box office one hour before curtain on performance dates (cash and checks only at the box office).

For reservations or other information, email esuarts@esu.edu or call 570-422-3483.

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