When the Encores! Off-Center production Working: A Musical opens June 26, the cast and crew will add another line on their résumé.
But stars—they're usually just like us! And like us, they've worked a 9-to-5 that's less than glamorous. So before you see the show at City Center—check out the sneak peek in the video above!—read what the Working cast had to say about their most memorable non-theatre jobs.
Tracie Thoms (Falsettos, Rent) worked in a mall sub shop in her teens. Meant to be on the register, she often had to run the grill or wash dishes. "To this day, I make a really good cheesesteak," Thoms said, emphasizing that her philosophy is different from that of Philly. "It's all about the ratio of bread to cheese to meat...It has to be equal opportunity all around."
Christopher Jackson had to rip up the floorboards and lanes of a 60-year-old Bowl-O-Mat bowling alley. "It was awful work," the Tony nominee from Hamilton said. "Talk about the muck and the gunk."
In a case of art imitating life, Mateo Ferro (Kennedy Center’s In the Heights) plays a pizza delivery driver in Working: A Musical, which was actually the Maryland native’s first job. Not part of this production? The scene where he crashed his dad’s new car on a delivery ride in real-life.
Javier Muñoz (In the Heights, Hamilton) used to alternate dressing as Hershey’s chocolate bar and a Reese’s peanut butter cup at Hershey Park. “That was a very sweaty job,” he added. He was also a nanny in college and loved it!
David Garrison got started as a white water raft guide one summer in Colorado and got hooked. A couple of years later, he was taking theatre folks from the city on trips. "They were terrified… having to deal with driving a boat through a rapid on a river and not being able to hail a cab," the Wicked actor said.
As a kid, director Anne Kauffman (Marvin's Room; Sundown, Yellow Moon) had to add up swatch costs at her dad’s fabric store. "We weren't allowed to use a calculator... it was like school and child labor," the director joked.
Music director Alvin Hough, Jr. (Once On This Island) learned how to do quick key changes on the piano in a gospel church when he was performing and the lead pianist pointed his finger up to the sky. Turns out, he raised the key a half-step, "and I didn’t know how to follow and I’m crashing and burning," he says. But he quickly learned how to site transpose and follow choirs and conductors.
So you see? Theatre actors and creatives are just like us! Except Helen Hunt, who began her career as a child actor on shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Swiss Family Robinson. Still, hanging in the air with a harness pretending to look into a tornado was pretty wild for a job. "It was not nothing," Hunt admits, adding that the stage manager role in Our Town was quite the challenge, too.
Working, running June 26–29 at City Center, will also feature Andréa Burns, as well as choreography by Avihai Haham.
Originally presented on Broadway in 1978, the musical is adapted from Studs Terkel’s book exploring the lives of those in the American workforce, by composer Stephen Schwartz and librettist Nina Faso. The updated adaptation features additional material from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gordon Greenberg, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead, and James Taylor.