Working on stage

ELHS Theater is performing Working through November 18.

This weekend, the East Lansing High School Theater program began a two-week run of the musical, Working, based on the book of the same name by Studs Terkel. The play opened last Friday and runs through next Sunday [November 18] afternoon. The next performance will be Wednesday at 7:00pm, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30pm, and then “closing night” (for this incarnation) at 2:00pm, all at the East Lansing High School Center for Performing Arts.

I attended the show last night, primarily to see my son, William, who was cast in the named role of Anthony Coelho, a stone mason. Although I had not heard about this musical previously, I certainly enjoyed myself. It is unusual in the fact that there is not a plot, per se, but rather individual vignettes examining different personal working situations, taken from interviews. There were some portions that were surprisingly moving, especially considering that the whole cast are teenagers. “Fathers and Sons” was particularly emotional.

What makes the ELHS version of Working special is that the cast has been invited to perform the show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland next August. This is reputed to be the largest art festival in the world, and only about 60 schools from the US are invited each year; East Lansing has the only program in the State of Michigan that was invited for 2008. It is a Big Deal (and I am proud that my son gets to participate).

The trick, of course, is fund raising in order to allow the (slightly different) Scotland cast to make the overseas journey for a week or so. We are looking for sponsors and/or a major benefactor to help provide the approximately $150K it will take to get the cast and crew to Edinburgh. The theme of the show is such that character/job sponsorships and product placement are possible. (We have already “donated” $750 ourselves.)

Anybody interested in helping out can view the promotional video (on YouTube) entitled, Working Our Way to Scotland. (For fun, see if you can spot William rehearsing in his Pretty Good Solitaire t-shirt in the video.)

Tickets are still available for the remaining (Fall) performances for $10, of which $2 is a contribution toward the Edinburgh trip. I already have my ticket for next Sunday, so maybe I will see you there.

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