The Oak Park and River Forest High School theatre department is using its spring musical, “Working,” to put a focus on local businesses and groups that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The documentary-style musical, based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of the same name, centers on interviews with Chicagoland workers about their jobs. Wearing uniforms, and delivery bags and boxes from local restaurants, including Buzz Cafe, Trattoria Pepino, and New Star Restaurant, cast members will call attention to the struggles restaurants are facing today during a song called “Delivery.”
“We are also going to advertise the show in restaurant take-out and delivery bags, and advertise our donors in the show’s program, said Michelle Bayer, OPRF theatre teacher and director of “Working.”
Fundraising days and dining discounts on the evenings of each show are also in the works.
During the song “Joe,” which is about a retiree, photos of special senior citizens in the lives of the cast and crew will be shown, to celebrate another group disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
OPRF will be one of the first high schools in the world to perform the newly released version of “Working,” which allows additional interviews with local workers to be added to the show. Plans are to include a UPS driver, a nurse, and a grocery store worker, among others, to continue the pandemic-focused theme.
For months, COVID-related financial woes threatened the musical itself. In January 2021, a generous $9,000 donation from the OPRF High School Alumni Association, to cover the costs of video editing and audio engineering, ensured the show would go on.
Virtual rehearsals have already begun for the approximately 70 OPRF students -- cast, crew, orchestra, and production staff -- that will bring the show to life. “Working” will be streamed on April 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets will soon be available for purchase here by searching Oak Park and River Forest High School.