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Studs Terkel's Working (Broadway Theatre Archive)

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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(Jan 05, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

THIS MUSICAL ADAPTATION OF THE STUDS TERKEL BOOK EXAMINES THE AVERAGE WORKER'S VIEWPOINT - SHOWING THAT HE OR SHE IS ANYTHING BUT AVERAGE.

Special Features

  • Performer theatre and film credits
  • Historical liner notes

Product Details

  • Actors: Studs Terkel, Barry Bostwick, Scatman Crothers, Barbara Browning, Vernee Watson
  • Directors: Kirk Browning, Stephen Schwartz
  • Writers: Studs Terkel, Stephen Schwartz, Nina Faso
  • Producers: Jac Venza, Lindsay Law, Phylis Geller
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 2002
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005TNFF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,973 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Studs Terkel's Working (Broadway Theatre Archive)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Templeton C. Moss on October 15, 2002
Format: DVD
The story of my life? So begins one of the most underratd musicals ever. With a simple message, "Everyone has a story." This is a TV adaptation of a musical based on a book by Sociologist and pundit Studs Terkel available by the grace of God for the first time on DVD. I knew the play from high school and was anxious to see it on film. It's a fairly reliable adaptation of the play, except that it omits two very fine songs and is kind of simply set up (it was PBS after all).
For those unfamiliar with the book or the musical, Working is based on a series of interviews Terkel performed with people from all walks of life. The book was subtitled "People Talking About What They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do." Composer and Lyricist Stephen Schwartz (with help from the likes of James Taylor and Craig Carnelia) adapted the interviews (which were verbatim from these peoples' mouths) into a musical.
Now let me adress a common concern right here. "I don't like musicals." Something like that is simply impossible to say. It's like saying "I don't like soup." You can't. There are too many different kinds of musicals (indeed soups) to say that you hate them all. Do you hate bright and sunny musicals like "Meet Me in St. Louis" or lavish dance numbers like "42nd Street" or quasi-historic grandeur like "Camelot?" In Working the musical performances are limited to singing at the camera, or singing off camera.
And the singing is performed by some wonderful people.
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Format: VHS Tape
This video is an American Playhouse production first presented on PBS in the early eighties. It was adapted from the 1978 Broadway musical, which in turn was adapted from Studs Turkel's book of interviews with the American worker. I actually saw the original stage production while it was in previews on Broadway -- a Saturday afternoon matinee. My seat was in the balcony almost at the end of the row on the right side. A couple of empty seats away there was a gentleman wearing a wrinkled trench coat; halfway through the show I finally realized he was actually Studs Turkel. I worked up the nerve to ask him to sign my program, and was waiting for a break in the action to ask him to do so. Unfortunately, he used that break to get up and go backstage. Never did get his autograph
Stephen Schwartz adapted his original Broadway script for this video production and added Studs Turkel as a narrator. The premise of the show is simple -- it's about real people telling Mr. Turkel and us what they do for a living and what they like or dislike about their work. Their stories are told here both in words and songs. And since the songs were created by six very talented people the music and lyrics cover a wide variety of styles while developing and explaining each the character singing them. That's a lesson most of today's new Broadway composers could learn.
While the original Broadway production used a very creative unit set with the characters and their career props moving on and off stage; the video opts for more realistic job sites and locations for each character. This is an acceptible alternative, but not nearly as creative or exciting.
But then this is a show about people, and that is where it stands out! The entire cast is outstanding and it would be unfair to single out just one performance.
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Format: DVD
First off, the reason that they are all "staring at the camera" is because this is filmed in a documentary style. As if all of the people are being interviewed about their lives and jobs.
Great performances by an all-star cast. Eileen Brennan ("Clue," "Murder by Death") gives a WONDERFUL performance, but unfortunately does not sing her character's "Millwork" song herself. Patti LaBelle sings the [...] out of her "Cleaning Women" song, but does not seem all that emotionally involved in the proceedings. Barry Bostwick gives a touching and brilliant performance, delivering a heart-wrending rendition of "Fathers and Sons." Rita Moreno stops the show, and other wonderful performances given by all.
The sets are rather like "Sesame Street for adults," but I personally find it to be very affective and theatrical. Semi-realism with some flat, 2-dimensional pieces thrown in there for you to remember that this is--after all--a theatrical piece (despite all of the realism in the documentary-style acting and film-making).
All in all, this is a BEAUTIFUL piece. A show about REAL human beings, telling their lives and stories in a non-linear way. Few musicals about real people are out there (only Sondheim's and Kander & Ebb's pieces, as well as I DO! I DO!, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and RAGTIME come to mind), but those that are are very affective and are truely quite moving.
However, my one MAJOR let down: Craig Carneila's beautiful song "The Mason" is not in this film.
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By A Customer on April 3, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Wow, this movie has it all! Patti Labelle, James Taylor, Rita Moreno, Barbara Barrie, Barry Bostwick and many more familiar faces appear in this wonderful 1982 musical which aired on PBS. With Book by Studs Terkel and Music by a list of artists including James Taylor (Millwork) you can't go wrong with a story about the working persons struggle through everyday hardships. In this filmed musical, Studs Terkel acts as a narrator who interviews people with different jobs, a construction worker, paper boy, housewife, hooker, secretary, boss, etc. This movie is for anyone who has ever punched a time clock, a co-worker, or a cow...or anyone who would like to. The section with Patti Labelle singing about cleaning ladies is worth the $ alone. Just to mention a great add on to this is the "Working" soundtrack available on CD here, it's not the same production but its worth it. The company who released this video, Broadway Theatre Archives has a list of other PBS plays and musicals, also try the video of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the rainbow was enuf."
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