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John Jay High School Presents Musical Version Of 'Working'

The poster for "Working" was designed by John Jay sophomore Jack Wedge.
The poster for "Working" was designed by John Jay sophomore Jack Wedge. Photo Credit: Contributed

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Lewisboro’s John Jay High School Theater Workshop will hit the stage this weekend to perform the musical version of “Working,” based on the 1972 book by legendary oral historian Studs Terkel.

Terkel spent more than three years compiling the narratives of working people from coast to coast and published a 600-page book of their stories.

“There are a lot of great songs,” John Jay director William Friedman said. “Half of them are people singing about their jobs -- a trucker, a mason, a waitress, a housewife, a cleaner and so on. They’re such great characters, so vivid. Letting people describe things in their own words reveals so much about them.”

Terkel’s “Working” was adapted into a musical in 1978 and had a short run on Broadway with a cast that included Patti LuPone, Bob Gunton, Joe Mantegna and Lynne Thigpen. Most of the score was composed by Stephen Schwartz, with additional numbers by James Taylor, Mary Rodgers and others.

Costumes for the John Jay production were done by senior Jordan Friedman. Many of the outfits were homemade. “The actor who plays the hedge fund guy borrowed a suit from his father,” William Friedman said.

The production team was lucky to have the services of three former John Jay students. Set designer Sebastian Adamo came home to arrange the sets, lighting designer Peter Wiegand Jr., who now designs lighting on an international scale, came home to oversee the lighting and technical director Scott Hickey, now a New York City firefighter, came home to advise on technical aspects. Hickey surprised Friedman by reminiscing about his own performance in “Working” at John Jay 20 years ago.

“I had no idea it had been done here before,” Friedman said.

“For the past two years, we’ve done flashy, two-dimensional shows. So we wanted something really challenging this year – a show that’s equal to the abilities of the cast. We’ve got a great graduating class, and we wanted to showcase their talents before they graduate.”

“Working” will star seniors Lauren Ciubotaru, Carly Dieck, Phil Eng, Theo Kiffer, John Anthony Loffredo, Gregory Markert, Ellie Martino, Yanni Metaxas, Jackson Rizzo, Jake Shippee, Isaac Sims and Lucas Spain, among a cast of 25.

Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Tickets go on sale at the door 45 minutes before showtime.

John Jay High School is on Route 121, just off Route 35 in Cross River.

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