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The Mass Media

UMass Boston talks to cast members of ‘Working: A Musical’

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Olivia Reid
Students perform during the dress rehearsal of the UMass Boston Performing Arts Department’s production of the musical, “Working.” Photo by Olivia Reid / Mass Media Staff

As many students know, UMass Boston Theatre Arts recently presented “Working: A Musical” to a few lucky audiences. It’s described on UMBeinvolved as “a musical exploration of how people relate to the work they do and how your job can reveal your essential humanity” (1). The show had the honor of giving many UMass Boston students a chance to show everyone what they’re made of. A few members of the cast were willing to sit down and answer questions on their experiences with the musical.

Bobby Lovett, who portrayed the role of ‘Man 1’ in the show, said that he has been acting since he was 11 years old. As an autistic person who had difficulty socializing, Lovett expressed that acting gave him the means to “supplant [himself] into the identity of another person,”  process things, and was simply fun.

With this particular show, he was able to use this ability to get into what makes other people tick. While most shows have a sort of big story and linear plot, this one serves to humanize people of different occupations. Another actor in the show, Jack Roussell, who played ‘Man 3,’ added onto this by saying that the show makes the mundane meaningful.

Roussell has been acting since high school. He said that he’s drawn to it, because he finds the study of characters fascinating and enjoys dissecting the subtext.

“We’re always kind of acting,” he said. “Performing in a play is just a little more grandiose.” In general, “Working” seems to be all about the epic struggles and inner lives that ordinary people experience. He said that anybody who can relate to the working class can find something in this play to connect to.

The musical is based on a non-fiction book by Studs Terkel, where he talks to people about their own experiences. This means that both Lovett and Roussell portrayed real people. This required a certain level of respect to be put into their performances, while reciting both songs and monologues.

This allowed the actors to connect to the audience directly. In an interesting anecdote told during the interview, one of Roussell’s scenes ended up connecting with Lovett’s grandma, as she related to its sentiments.

Peter Tamajong worked costumes for this show and has also been acting since high school. The appeal of acting for him was similar to what some of his castmates said. He stated that when acting “you don’t have to be yourself.”

While he didn’t act in this particular show, he still recognized the same strengths as his castmates. He said that each performance stood out, and that there was something for everyone. Working behind the scenes helped him contribute to the spectacle, which he also noted was a major draw for the musical.

Jasmine El-Shurafa, who also worked behind the scenes for the musical as a part of the Fly Crew and as the assistant choreographer, expanded on the spectacle aspect of the musical. She said that there were many different scenic elements that moved around and were truly impressive. The set made “everything seem so big, yet relatable.”

While Jasmine has experience working behind the scenes on UMass Boston productions—she also helped build sets for “Romeo & Juliet”—she also has a background as an actor. Starting her acting in middle school and continuing through high school, she decided to go behind the scenes for this one, because she doesn’t sing. As the title implies, “Working, A Musical” is a show that requires some singing. She says that she likes working behind the scenes, because it’s “nice to be in the wings and see what’s going on both on and off stage.”

She ended the interview by saying that “if people are interested in theater—on and off stage—they should just come and ask.” She acknowledged that theater kids can seem intimidating to outsiders but assured they are actually very kind and understanding. In short, it’s a “fund bonding experience.” So, if anyone reading is even slightly interested, go for it!

  1. https://www.umb.edu/news_events_media/events/working_a_musical_the_fall_2022_theatre_arts_mainstage_production#:~:text=UMass%20Boston%20News,-Recent%20News&text=Event%20Date%3A%20November%2016%2C%202022%20%2D%207%3A30%20p.m.&text=Working%20is%20a%20musical%20exploration,can%20reveal%20your%20essential%20humanity.

About the Contributors
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor