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Studs Terkel’s Seminal Book “Workers” Comes to Life at Creative Cauldron


Molly Rumberger, Sally Imbriano, Oscar Salvador, Tony Lemus, Chelsea Majors, and Erin Granfield (Photo William T. Gallagher Photography)

In 1974, American writer/historian/actor/broadcaster Studs Terkel wrote a seminal book on ordinary workers. Its subtitle was “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” A fascinating, deep dive into everyday American workers’ often monotonous, constantly challenging lives. I read it then, and it changed my perspective on life and the people who are its driving force.

That long-lasting impression left me eager to see the musical produced by the small but mighty Creative Cauldron. Proudly celebrating its 22nd anniversary, the regional theater has been thrilling audiences with its often daring, always fascinating productions.

Directed by notable Helen Hayes award-winning director Matt Conner, whom Creative Cauldron has commissioned to write an original work for the next five years, Workers is a project he has long had his sights on. The creative team is well-respected in local theater. It includes Helen Hayes nominees Choreographer Stefan Sittig, Music Director Paige Rammelkamp, and Lighting Designer Lynn Joslin.

Fourteen storytelling musical numbers by a six-person cast fill the small stage and keep the action moving swiftly as the cast delivers songs by notable songwriters Lin Manuel-Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, and Craig Carnelia.

Sally Imbriano, Erin Granfield, Molly Rumberger, Oscar Salvador, and Chelsea Majors (Photo William T. Gallagher Photography)

The stories they tell are moving and poignant. Conner has included videos of real-life locals, including the mayor of Falls Church, the building developer of their soon-to-be-completed, brand-new theater, a local government agency retiree, and an endearing series of local children talking about what they want to be when they grow up.

The videos are interspersed with the music and connect us to the universal hopes and dreams of the past, present, and future workforces.

Sally Imbriano, Chelsea Majors, and Erin Granfield (Photo William T. Gallagher Photography)

Characters include Freddy Rodriguez, a fast-food delivery worker; Delores, a waitress (“It’s an art! I’m not just a waitress, I’m a one-woman show.”); Frank, an interstate trucker who doesn’t see much of his family until it’s too late; Rose, a third-grade school teacher (“Everything has to be fun!” she declares as she deals with unruly students); Raj, a tech support guy; Rex, a hedge fund manager (“Unless you have winners you can’t have losers.”); Kate, a stay-at-home mom (“What I do only matters to three people.”); Grace, an assembly line millworker; Sharon, a receptionist (“I call it the land of no phone.”); Anthony, a stone mason; Utkarsh, an eldercare worker; Mike, a father longing for more family time; Maggie a cleaning woman; and Theresa, a nanny, raising other people’s children. Taken all together, they are a sea of dashed hopes and longings.

An energetic cast of six plays numerous roles, easily gliding in and out of the many characters. The playbill lists them as an ensemble by not assigning the performers to their individual roles. There are some fine performances by Molly Rumberger, Sally Imbriano and Erin Granfield. Other cast members include Tony Lemus, Oscar Salvador, and Chelsea Majors.

Scenic and Costume Design by Margie Jervis; Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin; terrific Video Projections and Lighting by James Morrison.

Through March 3 at Creative Cauldron, 410 Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22046 – For tickets and information, call the box office at 703 436-9948 or visit

Jordan Wright

Jordan Wright is a noted publisher and writer focused on food, spirits, travel, theatre and lifestyles.  Her writing can also be found on her personal website

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