Working at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

The cast of Working at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: dbphotographics

The cast of Working at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: dbphotographics

Working by Nina Faso and Stephen Schwartz
August 11, 13, 15 – 19, 21 at Venue #12: Varscona Theatre
More information: plainjanetheatre.com


An interview with Kate Ryan. 

Describe your show in five words.

A musical celebrating real people!

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Stephen Schwartz (WICKED, PIPPIN and GODSPELL), James Taylor, Lin-Manuel Miranda (HAMILTON) and other all-star composers honor the heart and soul of the every workingman in this musical celebration of Pulitzer Prize author Studs Terkel’s 1974 bestseller, ‘WORKING-people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do’.

How did you come across Working and why did you want to bring the show to Edmonton? 

I’ve known this musical for a long time. So many great songs about real people! Not a musical comedy (which I am usually drawn to) but a more documentary-style musical or a ‘non-fiction musical’. Suffice it to say, it is a rare genre which excites me….and terrifies me. But I love a challenge and over time, I have found that songs have a power to connect us and let issues resonate on a deeper level and see ourselves in others. I have also been so fortunate to work with the immensely talented musical theatre artists here in Edmonton and knew that we could build a great company for this show. And with the wide range of musical styles in the show, it needed a great band.  I’m excited to share a show about something Edmonton is very passionate about-Work. And this past year, we’ve seen a lot of jobs in the labor and trades fields working along side artists and producers building new theatres and arts centres. It’s a city that is diverse, open minded and respectful of it’s neighbors. So ‘Working‘ is a thank you to our citizens and laborers who normally don’t get the applause.

Working features songs written by some of the best musical theatre writers. Can you tell us about some of your favourite songs in the show?

Oh! Tough question to answer. The songs in this show are all so great-and different! Each writer  captures each different character and their spirit so clearly and dramatically. I love James Taylor’s beautiful and devastating ‘Millwork’. Wish he wrote more musicals! And Craig Carnelia perfectly captures a man struggling with retirement in ‘Joe’. You fall in love with each person as they so gently reveal what they love and hate and accept about their lives and work. And Stephen Schwartz’s ‘It’s an Art’ gives dignity and joy to the waitress. Schwartz’s opening number ‘All the Livelong Day’ with the whole company is pretty damn exciting too (thanks to Walt Whitman).

Working dates back to 1978 and while it has undergone revisions in that time, what do you think it is about the show that audiences relate to across the decades?

I find the real strength of the show is in how the songs reveal the core truths of people’s relationships to their work and how it reveals key aspects about how they view themselves and the world around them. Studs Terkel was quite a remarkable interviewer giving voice and finding the extraordinary in the people we don’t normally hear from and jobs we still come in contact with every day. Even though the 1970s was a big time for changes in the workplace with the beginning of the digital age, it’s quite surprising to see how much as and hasn’t changed through the years.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

It’s a perfect musical experience for anyone who has ever worked a day in their lives.

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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