About the Author: Studs Terkel & Contributors

Pulitzer Prize winning Louis Terkel a.k.a Studs Terkel (1912-2008) was an American author, historian, actor and broadcaster, not to mention a fabulous storyteller of unadorned style. He may be best remembered for hosting a radio show in Chicago which focused on histories of common Americans. His diverse mix of guests included Martin Luther King, Leonard Bernstein, Mort Sahl, Bob Dylan, Alexander Frey, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams, Jean Shepherd, and Big Bill Broonzy. His nickname “Studs” comes from a fictional character for which he was reading, Studs Lonigan, of James T. Farrell’s trilogy. The director of the production needed a way to differentiate between him and another actor, also named Louis.

His parents, Russian Jewish immigrants, Samuel Terkel a tailor, and Anna Finkel, a seamstress, resided in New York City. Terkel’s parents also ran a rooming house where people from all walks of life met. Being in this environment allowed him to attain an intimate understanding of humanity, he was witness to the social interactions that occurred between the tenants and visitors who frequented the lobby of the boarding house.

Even though Studs Terkel received his J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1934, he became a concierge at a hotel and then joined a theater group. Terkel worked in radio voicing soap opera productions, announcing news and sports, presenting shows of recorded music and writing radio scripts and advertisements. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Terkel was the central character of Studs’ Place, an unscripted television drama about the owner of a greasy-spoon diner in Chicago. The show focused on the many famous people and interesting characters who visited.

Terkel has published numerous books, his first Giants of Jazz, in 1956, followed by his first collection of oral histories, Division Street America with 70 people talking about effect on the human spirit of living in an American metropolis in 1967. In 1985 his book The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two, won the Pulitzer Prize. Working, published in 1974 and a bestseller, focuses on People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (subtitle). Working was made into a Broadway show in 1978 and was telecast on PBS in 1982.

Studs Terkel had a gift for connecting with people and collecting their stories.

Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life, rather than a Monday-to-Friday sort of dying.

Nina Faso met Stephen Schwartz while attending Carnegie Mellon University in the mid 1960s, they were both directing majors in the drama department. Faso assisted John-Michael Tebelak with the original productions of Godspell in New York (with a Stephen Schwartz score) and went on to direct many regional and international productions. She was also involved with other Schwartz projects including The Magic Show, Rags, and Working. She holds a BFA in directing from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Stephen Schwartz began his career in 1969 when he wrote a song for Butterflies Are Free. He is best known for his musicals WickedGodspell, and Pippin. He is the only songwriter with three Broadway shows running more than 1900 performances on Broadway. Schwartz also stands out as one of the few who has worked as a composer-lyricist, a lyricist (for Disney and Dreamworks films, Bernstein’s Mass and other projects), and as a composer.  He holds a BFA in drama from the  Carnegie Mellon University.

See Working A Musical (2012 Revised Version) at CCBC Essex, F. Scott Black Theatre on November 29 at 11:10 a.m., November 30 & December 1 at 7 p.m., December 2 at 3 p.m. (ASL Interpreted), December 3 at 10 a.m.Purchase tickets online or call the Box Office at 443-840-ARTS.

Photo courtesy of youtube.com
Photo courtesy of npr.org. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of http://www.musicalschwartz.com
Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com

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