Working – a Musical
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
10th to 22nd Sept 2019
“Fans of hit musicals such as Wicked and Hamilton can now enjoy more of the brilliant work of composers Stephen Schwartz and Lin-Manuel Miranda (among a host of others) in this unique musical that opens in North London at Upstairs at the Gatehouse for a two-week run (10 – 22 September 2019).
Based on a best-selling book by US broadcaster Studs Terkel, Working – A Musical tells “the extraordinary dreams of ordinary people”, and promises to be an exhilarating mix of fantastic voices and harmonies, slick musical numbers and moving, poignant and honest accounts of real people’s lives. “
Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars
With 14 musical numbers, and a cast of 8, this is a whirlwind “careers lecture” through the medium of song for 25 characters about their employment. From out of this daily grind come insights and perspectives of revelation. Many are funny, some are sad, some are poignant and one in particular really stands out! Hannah Cheetham as The School Teacher packs a punch, as does her performance throughout!
Boasting Stephen Schwartz as musical creator, you know this is going to be a musical beauty! And it is! With a 3-piece live band under the enthusiastic Musical Direction of Jamie Noar, the show starts with a little too much volume from the band overwhelming the cast, but immediately settles down into a good mix. Speaking of Sound, Upstairs at the Gatehouse have cracked it – the wireless headsets for the Cast worked admirably throughout without any intrusion or neglect. Phil Stannard as Sound Designer made everything sound real and audible.
The Set Design (Emily Megson) absolutely nailed it! 8 x Work Cubicles made from industrial scaffolding with ladders to access the upper level of these. Fast multiple interactions from the soloist and various others all picked out by clever lighting from Jen Watson enabled a sort of “blankety-blank” arrangement when needed. The entire lighting plot never showed off, it was sensitive and punchy at exactly the right moments fading into the colourful and back out again as the mood of the piece requested. Quietly and confidently the lighting perfectly supported the production.
Some of the many on-stage movements in the background were a little distracting. The venue is never dark enough to not see this with 3 blue lights always on. And using the cast to make sound effects rather than the sound system is again quite distracting and can sometimes feel a little “drama school.” Director, Choreographer and Co-Producer Amanda Noar focussed on the choreography and put a lot in! The Choreography was great and very inventive for a cast of various dancing abilities but unfortunately quite telling in the Waltz.
Every member of the Cast is a principal and soloist of egalitarian status. There are many numbers of very suitable material for cabaret or auditions.
Ultimately the show is well done, a lot of fun and really enjoyable. You might expect it to have been a huge hit in the West End or on Broadway, but perhaps the lack of a story and total reliance on a theme goes some way to explain this.
(Photo Credit Colin Allen)
Laura Allen, Hannah Cheetham, Kris Marc-Joseph, Makeda Ansah, Ryan Owen, Shivam V Patel, Lara Beth-Sas and Mikey Wooster
Producers for HI Impact – Amanda Noar and Laura Allen
Director – Amanda Noar
Musical Director – Jamie Noar
Choreographers – Amanda Noar and Laura Allen
Set Designer – Emily Megson
Lighting Designer – Jen Watson
Sound Designer – Phil Stannard
Stage Manager – Bethany Barrington-Davis
Production Assistant – Angie Lawrence
Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Sunday at 4pm