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Not enough spark in Lyric Stage’s ‘Working’

From left: Phil Tayler, Tiffany Chen, Merle Perkins, Shannon Lee Jones, Christopher Chew, and Cheeyang Ng in “Working.”
From left: Phil Tayler, Tiffany Chen, Merle Perkins, Shannon Lee Jones, Christopher Chew, and Cheeyang Ng in “Working.”Mark S. Howard

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There’s probably a great work of theater to be made on the subject of the American worker. But “Working’’ isn’t it.

At least not on the evidence of the underpowered production at Lyric Stage Company, directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins.

Robbins did superlative work last year with the Lyric’s “On the Town’’ (as choreographer) and Stoneham Theatre’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie’’ (as director and choreographer). But she proves unable to solve the challenges presented by the musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s landmark oral history.

Though there are some undeniably moving moments in the Lyric’s “Working,’’ the production never quite hits its stride, seldom generating the raw energy necessary to match the size of its subject matter.

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