Monday, February 19, 2007
The musical adaptation of Studs Terkel's Working isn't very good. It's got a creaky book and half of the musical numbers are garbage. That's why I was scratching my head when it was chosen as the vehicle for an Actors' Fund benefit concert. Gordon Greenberg did his best to cut down on the monotony by reducing the show to ninety intermissionless minutes and cutting as many superfluous songs and characters as possible (he did away with the godawful newsboy bit), but it still came off feeling like Chinese water torture for most of the evening. Luckily, the cast was way better than their material; everyone was on the ball. I feel wrong singling people out in this case, but three stick out in my mind: the brilliant Mary Testa, playing the convivial waitress and blowing the roof off of the Zipper with "It's An Art"; Ed Dixon and his blue-eyed soul rendition of "Lovin' Al"; and Merle Dandridge, whose "Just a Housewife" broke my heart and "Cleaning Woman" brought me to my proverbial feet. Why isn't she in every show?