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Studs Terkel’s Seminal Book “Working” Brought to Life at Creative Cauldron

Studs Terkel’s Seminal Book “Working” Brought to Life at Creative Cauldron

Creative Cauldron
February 12, 2024
Jordan Wright
Special to The Zebra

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

Back in 1974 American writer/historian/actor/broadcaster, Studs Terkel, wrote a seminal book on ordinary workers. Its subtitle was “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do”. A fascinating, deep dive into the often monotonous, constantly challenging lives of everyday American workers. I read it then and it changed my perspective on life and the people who are its driving force. That long lasting impression left me eager to see the musical produced by the small but mighty Creative Cauldron. Proudly celebrating its 22nd anniversary, the regional theater has been thrilling audiences with its often daring, always fascinating productions.

Directed by notable and Helen Hayes award-winning director Matt Conner, who has been commissioned by Creative Cauldron to write an original work for the next five years, Working is a project he has long had his sights on. The entire creative team is well-respected in local theater and includes Helen Hayes nominees Choreographer Stefan Sittig, Music Director Paige Rammelkamp and Lighting Designer Lynn Joslin.

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

Fourteen, storytelling, musical numbers by a six-person cast fill the small stage and keep the action moving swiftly as the cast delivers songs by notable songwriters Lin Manuel-MirandaStephen SchwartzJames TaylorMicki GrantMary RodgersSusan Birkenhead, and Craig Carnelia.

The stories they tell are moving and poignant. Conner has included videos of real-life locals including the Mayor of Falls Church, the building developer of their soon-to-be-completed, brand new theater, a local government agency retiree and an endearing series made up of local children talking about what they want to be when they grow up. The videos are interspersed within the music and connect us to the universal hopes and dreams of the workforces of the past, present and future.

Characters include Freddy Rodriguez, a fast-food delivery worker; Delores, a waitress, “It’s an art! I’m not just a waitress, I’m a one-woman show.”; Frank, an interstate trucker who doesn’t see much of his family until it’s too late; Rose, a third grade school teacher, “Everything has to be fun!” she declares as she deals with unruly students; Raj, a tech support guy; Rex, a hedge fund manager, “Unless you have winners you can’t have losers.”; Kate, a stay-at-home mom, “What I do only matters to three people.”; Grace, an assembly line millworker; Sharon, a receptionist, “I call it the land of no phone,”; Anthony, a stone mason; Utkarsh, an eldercare worker; Mike, a father longing for more family time; Maggie a cleaning woman; and Theresa, a nanny, raising other people’s children. Taken altogether they are a sea of dashed hopes and longings.

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

An energetic cast of six, plays numerous roles – gliding in and out of the many characters with ease. Treated as an ensemble, the playbill lists them by not assigning the performers to their individual roles. There are some fine performances by Molly RumbergerSally Imbriano and Erin Granfield. Other cast members include Tony LemusOscar Salvador and Chelsea Majors.

Scenic and Costume Design by Margie Jervis; Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin; terrific Video Projections and Lighting by James Morrison.

Through March 3rd at Creative Cauldron, 410 Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22046 – For tickets and information call the box office at 703 436-9948 or visit

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