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'Working: The Musical' next on tap at Centennial

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Students at Centennial High school rehearse for their upcoming performance of "Working: The Musical."

Studs Terkel's classic 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do became the seemingly unlikely source for a musical a scant four years later.

But Working: The Musical works, in the opinion of Scott E. Wilson, the drama teacher at Centennial High School.

A 2012 update of the musical, which was only on Broadway from May 14 to June 4, 1978, will performed March 6-8 at the school, 1441 Bethel Road.

Show times are 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

"I always work with fellow music teachers ..., we all brainstorm together," Wilson said last week of the process for choosing what works the students will put on.

The decision is made with M. Ross Shirley, the choir instructor, and band teacher Danny Gleich.

"We wanted to do something that wasn't quite so popular, a little unknown, but also could showcase a lot of our talent," said Wilson, who is directing the production.

In selecting a musical based on the extensive interviews the Chicago author, historian and broadcaster conducted with men and women from all walks of life regarding their jobs, the drama teacher said they settled on a work for the stage that provides "so many opportunities for the kids to shine."

"We chose a show that doesn't have a lead character," Wilson said.

"It's very much an ensemble piece, so everyone is kind of equal in the show."

The updated version of Working: The Musical with songs by James Taylor and Stephen Schwartz, among others, features more than a dozen different solos or duets.

Working also provides some very real life lessons, in Wilson's opinion, for adults and students alike.

"For my level as an older person, I can appreciate that people's dreams don't always come true," he said.

"That message comes up a lot of times in the play," Wilson said.

"For the kids point of view, I think they like that it's different kinds of music. It's not typical musical theater."

"You should have dreams and have ambitions and have goals, but life goes on if those don't happen," Wilson said.

"The whole message ... is everyone should have something they're proud of, whether it's your children or your family or your work."

Rehearsals, which got under way Jan. 7, have been going well, Wilson added, in spite of the days missed because of weather cancellations of classes.

"We haven't fallen too far behind," he said.