American Playhouse (1981– )
7.3/10
61
4 user 1 critic
A musical adaptation of Studs Terkel's book celebrating the lives of everyday working-class people.

Writers:

Studs Terkel (book), Stephen Schwartz (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Studs Terkel ... Himself - Host
Barry Bostwick ... Steelworker
Scatman Crothers ... Parking Attendant
Barbara Browning Barbara Browning ... Editor
Vernee Watson ... Secretary (as Vernée Watson)
Jay Garner Jay Garner ... Corporate Executive
Billy Jayne ... Newsboy (as Billy Jacoby)
Barbara Barrie ... Schoolteacher
Carole Schwartz Carole Schwartz ... Supermarket Checker
Bill Beyers Bill Beyers ... Boxboy
Fausto Barajas Fausto Barajas ... Migrant Worker
Charles Haid ... Gas Man
Beth Howland ... Housewife
Barbara Hershey ... Call Girl
Eileen Brennan ... Millworker
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Storyline

A musical adaptation of Studs Terkel's book celebrating the lives of everyday working-class people.

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

13 April 1982 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a seminar with the Dramatist's Guild of North America in December 2003, Stephen Schwartz said that directing this television production was the lowest point in his career. He believed at the time he would never write another musical and that he was in a position where he did not know what he was doing. See more »

Quotes

Song Lyric: Hey somebody, do you wanna hear the story of my life?
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Soundtracks

Something to Point To
Music and Lyrics by Craig Carnelia
Sung by Entire Cast
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User Reviews

 
A who's who of stars to be
11 April 2007 | by musicmaker5376See all my reviews

"Working" is looked at as a wonderful show with eclectic music and only the most tenuous of connective matter. Basically a collection of several dozen monologues and songs, it doesn't necessarily translate well to the screen -- large or small. This teleplay is bookended with speeches from the author of the source material, Studs Terkel. The presentation is repetitive: almost each scene consists of one actor addressing the camera. When presented on stage, the directorial trick is to make it not look like that, and numerous techniques can be employed to achieve that end. On screen, however, it seemed like the same thing over and over again.

Several different composers contributed material to the Broadway production and this adaptation. Mary Rodgers contributes a traditional musical theater tune for the schoolteacher, sung wanly in this production by Barbara Barrie. Craig Carnelia contributes several songs including "If I Coulda Been" and "Something to Point To", and Micki Grant contributes "Lovin' Al", among others. Mega-Singer/Songwriter James Taylor adds some of the best songs, including the powerhouse "Millwork", and musical theater luminary Stephen Schwartz pens some of his most personal music, including the moving "Fathers and Sons".

However, there are some extraordinary performances that keep the presentation alive. Barry Bostwick as the Steelworker shows a surprisingly strong singing voice. Scatman Carruthers is endlessly amusing as Lovin' Al, as well as Carole Schwartz as the gum-chewing grocery cashier. Underrated Vernee Johnson is disturbingly honest as the secretary, and Patti LaBelle tears it up as the cleaning lady. It's always wonderful to see Lynne Thigpen doing anything at all (if it were my responsibility to re-do every artistic endeavor from 1972 to 2005, I would put Lynne Thigpen in every role in every show everywhere), and she was in perfect counterpoint with Edie McClurg. Rita Moreno makes a fantastic turn as the waitress, and Barbara Hershey is subtly seductive as the hooker. Charles Durning, Didi Conn, and Beth Howland round out an impressive cast list. The crowning achievement in all of this belongs to Eileen Brennan as the Millworker. With the song sung in haunting underscore by Jennifer Warnes, Ms. Brennan's physical manifestation of the pain of performing 30 years of the same 40-second repetitive act is all too real. Watching her scene makes tracking down a copy of this production worth the difficulty.

In all, 7/10. Repetitive, but the music and the cast list pull this out of the toilet.


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