Show History



The musical is based on the Studs Terkel book, Working: People Talk about What They Do All Day and How They Feel about What They Do (1974), which has interviews with people from different regions and occupations. With his knowledge confined to his life of work in and around the theatre at the time, Stephen Schwartz felt compelled to explore the voices of the men and women who comprise the fabric of America after reading Terkel's extensive collection of interviews and, thus, the idea for the musical, Working, was born.


Working, with a book by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, music by Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers and James Taylor, and lyrics by Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, Taylor and Susan Birkenhead, was first staged at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago from December 1977 through February 1978.

A follow-up production at Washington, D.C.'s, Arena Stage was then scrapped as the musical moved straight to Broadway, opening at the 46th Street Theatre on May 14, 1978. There, it ran for twelve previews and 24 performances before closing on June 4, 1978. The musical was directed by Stephen Schwartz with choreography by Onna White.

In 1982, Schwartz and Nina Faso adapted the show for a 90-minute telecast on the PBS series, "American Playhouse," directed by Schwartz and Kirk Browning.

In March 1999, a revised, updated and pared-down version of Working was presented at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, with direction by Christopher Ashley and adaptations by Stephen Schwartz.

The musical then continued to undergo revisions, falling into the hands of Gordon Greenberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the latter of whom contributed two new songs, both collaborating with Schwartz to bring the musical into the 21st century. Three developmental productions at Asolo Repertory Theatre of Sarasota, Florida (in May 2008), the Old Globe Theatre of San Diego, California (in March 2009), and then at the Broadway Playhouse at the Water Tower Place in Chicago (in February 2011) were all directed by Greenberg.

Happy with the revisions and feedback, Working then came back to New York, opening Off-Broadway for a four-week limited run at the 59E59 Theater on December 12, 2012, after previews that began on December 1, 2012. Directed once again by Gordon Greenberg, the cast featured Joe Cassidy, Donna Lynne Champlin, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Nehal Joshi and Kenita Miller.

Working was produced at the second annual Hollywood Fringe Festival of Los Angeles in June 2011 by the group, theTRIBE.

The show's Asian premiere was in Singapore, performed by LASALLE College of the Arts at the Creative Cube in September 2011.

In addition to these high-profile productions, even throughout its many revisions, Working has become a regional, college and community favorite around the country, showing the everyday life of the everyman.

Cultural Influence

  • A cast album from the original Broadway cast of Working was released in 1978.


  • Working was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, as well as four Drama Desk Awards, aside from the two it won, which included Outstanding Musical .
  • Working contains the only songs that singer/songwriter, James Taylor, ever wrote for the stage.