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Colony Theatre does a terrific job with "Working"
Review by Alan Raeburn, Accent, Glendale News-Press, June 11, 1994

An entertaining tapestry of people’s jobs woven into a neat little musical revue appropriately called "Working" is proving to be a big hit at the Colony Studio Theatre in Silverlake.

Songs, monologues and sketches illustrate how people yearn for respect and individual recognition on their daily quest to make a living. 

A number of writers and composers contributed to this tuneful, often humorous adaptation of Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of the ‘70s. Among them are such recognizable names as Stephan Schwartz (composer/and or lyricist of "Godspell," "Pippin," "The Baker’s Wife," "Rags"). Susan Birkenhead, Walt Whitman, Micki Grant and James Taylor.

The intimate Colony makes an ideal venue for this show. As always, the production values and the versatile performances are uniformly first rate under the sensitive direction of the Colony’s Todd Nielsen who also choreographs the cast.

Richard D. Blum’s ingenious multi-level set, representing and industrial landscape, nestles four "working" musicians providing a rich accompaniment.

One joyful noise is made by and adorable youngster, 11-year-old Thomas Hobson, in "Neat To Be a Newsboy," with members of the company plus a lively bicycle.

Tall, lean Robert Stoeckle tells us with fervor about the boring aspects of pulling steel all day.

Vividly remembered as the firebrand unionist in "Rags," the charming Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls" and as wily reporter Hildy Johnson in "The Front Page" this outing doesn’t provide similar nuggets. Yet triumph he does.

Personable William Hubbard Knight makes a notable Colony debut, bringing African-American shades of humor he finds working as a car-parking attendant. Knight puts us in a pensive mood later relating the rewards as well as the hazards of being a fireman.

Also making a first Colony appearance is a knockout singer-actress who goes by the moniker of Terrah. She’s a secretarial terror revolting against an inept corporate boss played by the chameleonesque Whitney Rydbeck. Terrah returns to give sparkling renditions of a third-generational "Cleanin’ Woman" and leads the ensemble in "If I Could’ve Been," a terrific first-act closer about dreams lost to marriage and family obligations.

Patricia Cullen, Colony’s resident English lady does a little "stretch" as an American third grade teacher relating how the ethnic content of her class has changed over the years.

Diminutive Nick DeGruccio ignites our emotions as a migrant worker trying to tell supermarket shoppers why they shouldn’t buy California grapes. DeGruccio reappears in two other vignette gems — as a radical left-wing newspaper copy boy working for a "capitalistic organization," and as a proud mason whose output is timeless, leaving something of himself behind.

Jodie Carlisle’s dutiful housewife is joined by "the girls" in the musical item called "Just A Housewife," which contrasts with her ambitious magazine editor decrying the plight of working in the male-dominated world of publishing.

Linden Waddell knocks the cream into our coffee as Delores, a happy waitress demonstrating how "It’s An Art," while Jeffrey Stoeckle’s laconic interstate trucker drives us on some meaningful jaunts.

There are many other moments which keep this tight show bubblingly buoyant by a cast whose playbill bios reveal some experiences besides their impressive credits in the entertainment industry. This has something for everybody.

Copyright 1994 Glendale News-Press
Reprinted with Permission
Working at the Colony Theatre