Inside the audition process of the musical ‘Working’

What it’s like to audition at EWU and what’s coming up in the theater department


Courtesy of EWU Theatre

EWU Theatre’s graphic for “Working,” the musical represents some of the jobs in Studs Terkel’s book “Working.” The musical was based off of Terkel’s book containing hundreds of interviews about work.

By Erik Rötness, A & F Editor

You have to wait your turn, and there’s no telling exactly when that will be. All you can do is sit and wait like everyone else.


And wait.

Not just in a chair, but in a feeling. The feeling that any second your name will be called and you will be the one walking through that door to be judged. You’re nervous.  


And wait.

Then you hear your name and rise to your feet. You walk out the door and hand someone the music you brought with you. Alone on the stage, you introduce yourself, then sing, knowing that any mistake, a flat tune or a quivering note, could cost you.

When it’s all done?

You sit.

And wait.

Students at EWU went through this part of the process and more before being cast in the EWU Theatre department’s fall production of “Working,” the musical.

“I am always very nervous for auditions no matter how many I have done,” Katherine Crowe, an EWU fifth-year senior said. “It is really scary to practice so much and only have a few minutes to show all of your hard work.”

Crowe, who is majoring in both elementary education and theater, is just one of the 20 members who were announced on Sept. 22 as the cast of “Working.” And as nervous as she gets during the auditioning process, she really enjoys the way it’s run at EWU.

“It runs the same as a professional audition,” Crowe said.

For musicals like “Working,” a student who auditions for an EWU Theatre production starts by reserving an audition appointment where they will perform a portion of a musical theater song. Afterward, the director gives the student part of the script to read with another actor. Then there’s a dance audition portion where a choreographer teaches a quick dance combination and observes while students perform it.

Crowe has been involved in every EWU Theatre production in her time at the school. Most recently, she played Heather McNamara in “Heathers: The Musical,” and performed as spirit and a goddess singer in EWU’s production of “The Tempest.”  

While performing on stage is an open opportunity that students may audition for, there are other ways to get involved with EWU Theatre. “You can work backstage, help build the set, paint, help with costuming or stage manage,” Crowe said.

The EWU Theatre Program advertised the musical as “a warm, raucous and poignant view of how people really feel about their job. Does it suck? Does it thrill? Does it just get you by?”

“Working” was conceived and adapted by American Musical composer Stephen Schwartz. Additional music for the production was written by James Taylor, with new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical was originally staged at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 1977, later to be produced on Broadway in 1978.

The musical is based off of its namesake, a book by Studs Terkel, published in 1974. “Working,” the book, is a collection of over 100 interviews, asking people what they do for work and how they feel about it.

“Working” will showcase both solo and ensemble vocal performances and scene work.