The kinds of characters typically pushed towards the sidelines (or chorus) in musicals take center stage in Working, now running at 59E59 Theaters. The six-actor cast portrays 36 ordinary Americans, from construction workers and bricklayers to waitresses and washroom attendants. (Essentially, the kind of people who do not work in musicals.) The characters are based on radio broadcaster Studs Terkel's interviews, compiled in his 1974 bestseller Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Last week, TheaterMania interviewed two members of the ensemble about their former gigs as non-actors. Next up: Nehal Joshi, who once worked a job he likened to a sadder, less glamorous version of a David Mamet play.
What was your first job ever?
I was a paperboy for the Burke Connection.
Were you good at it?
I was carrier of the month once.
What did your parents do for a living when you were growing up?
My mom worked in the accounting department of a car dealership. My dad was an electrical engineer.
What was the worst job you've ever had and why?
I worked at a used car dealership once. The job wasn't so bad as the environment. I worked in the accounts payable department, which is where the salesmen came for their commissions. It was a little like being in a sadder Glengarry Glen Ross. The place reeked of coffee and desperation. That used car dealership may be the best argument for communism one can find.
Who is the hardest working person you know and why?
There are a lot of hard working people on this show -- many of whom are working on or putting up multiple projects at the same time -- but I'm going to be boring and say my mother. My mother works as a full-time housewife and has a full-time job with an organ donation non-profit. She gets up every morning at five to prepare food...for my father and grandmother, and then gets ready for work, goes to work, does an accounting job, comes home and makes full meals for dinner and finishes the day with housework. She does this almost everyday. On the weekends, she does yard work, laundry, shops for groceries or helps my father fix things around the house [and] gets a head start on meals for the week. She has done this for almost 40 years.