Working on “Working”: The Spring Musical


“Working for a living the whole day long! All the livelong day!” sang the actors of Working: The Musical in their opening number. The show was inspired by a best-selling compilation of interviews with people talking about their jobs written by Studs Terkel. From mid-November to late February, actors worked hard after school in daily rehearsals, and before the show, many actors practiced their own individual preparation rituals. So, what did the actors do to prepare for the story-telling of real, historical people?

One character who many teachers can relate to is third-grade teacher Rose Hoffman, played by Eliana Nahl (‘23). Mrs. Hoffman is an elderly character who complains about the rapid changes to education and her struggle to keep up. To prepare for this character, Eliana said, “I do a lot of physical work. Especially for when I’m playing an old person, I need to have an entirely different physicality.” She emphasized analyzing the text and understanding the significance behind each word.

Other actors have also created bonds with their characters. Naveen Hernandez (‘26) plays Raj Patel and Emilio. Raj Patel is a Verizon tech worker, who struggles to meet customers’ high expectations, while Emilio is a migrant farm worker from Mexico hoping for a better future. Naveen said, “I really try to center myself and try and visualize what this character would think and feel like in the performance.” He smiled and continued, “I like how they represent my heritage, because I’m Indian and Mexican like the characters, and I think they show unique aspects of my heritage that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to represent.”

In addition to the frequent shake-downs during the pre-show, many cast members also practice their monologues. Jackson Weisser (‘26), who plays Ralph Werner, overachieving Bishop’s student, said, “I do diction exercises backstage or before the show even starts.” While actors mill around the stage during the pre-show, many drill intricate tongue twisters under their breaths. Others practice their lines.

“I say the first thing of whatever I have to say. Like, the first line over and over again of whatever I have to say,” Bella Combs (‘25), who plays Kimberly, a character inspired by our own front desk receptionist, Kimberly, explained. Mihir Bhatagwala, who portrays Charlie Blossom, a character written based on The Tower’s copy editors, added, “I sing the lyrics in my mind over and over again until there is nothing else in [my] brain.”

“I always make myself some tea. I drink throat coat tea, which is the most disgusting tea ever, but it makes your throat feel incredible. And I usually take a second on the stage to just sit, listen to some music, get into character, run around, and feel the space,” said Sarah Kaplan (‘23), who plays the hilarious, spotlight-craving waitress, Delores Dante.



While actors have their individual rituals, the tradition of the full-cast hand-squeeze brings the whole cast together. Around thirty minutes before the house opens, actors will stand on the stage in a circle and hold hands, passing around a squeeze while seniors give small speeches about the show. 

“It really helps center the group together, to prepare for basically whatever you’re going to be doing together in the next few hours,” Lainie Beamer (‘25) explained. “Because when you’re working with such a huge group of people, and maybe you haven’t known those people before the show, it’s a great way to center people in a common goal because everyone wants the show to be a success.”

“I’m here with a few of my best pals and there’s nothing that makes me less anxious than getting together with Ben and Raphael and just having a good time, right?” Daxton Gutekunst (‘23) agreed, leaning back. “When I’m in the presence of my friends, all my fears wash away.”

Behind the scenes, however, there have been accidents, such as a mic pack falling out of an actor’s mic belt, or when transitions between scenes don’t go as planned. But, as a loving cast, actors brush it off with jokes. “So, personally, I lose a gallon of blood straight from my nostril, right before each performance, and I find it puts me in a good headspace,” Raphael Delgado (‘24) laughed as he recalled his sudden nosebleed backstage right before his song.

“As my last show at Bishop’s, this show is a celebration of everyone here and the talent we have. It’s so incredible that we get to highlight so many of our talented students,” Sarah reflected wistfully. “I’m so lucky to be a part of this. It feels like a little showcase of just what we can do.”

While Working is Sarah’s final show this year at Bishop’s, it is only the beginning for Ms. Massey. “This show has been really special as an expression of generosity from all the students, from the staff, and from the teachers,” she said.

This is also Dr. Tregar’s first musical at Bishop’s. “I’ve really loved getting to collaborate with my colleagues in the Performing Arts department, and I will also treasure getting to know students that I hadn’t met yet, as well as being able to do one more mainstage production with this year’s seniors,” she said, nodding her head. “They will really be missed!”