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Working In 1978, the first version of this musical adaptation by Stephen Schwartz (and other composers) of Studs Terkel's classic oral history ("Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do") bombed on Broadway. Stuffed and mammoth, the show resembled a Red Square pageant for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and closed after 24 performances. Revised for TV in 1982 and further updated in 1999, the show has finally been given a fresh face-lift. There's still a strong whiff of agitprop as the saintliness of everyday workers is lauded if not etched in stone, but it's not nearly as overpowering or bombastic as the original. Thanks to director Wayne Landon and the simple but effective choreography by Belinda Barnes, the sprightly staging at Ace Theatre is a real pleasure, as are the affecting performances by Andrew Adams, Lee Bentley, Heather Dahlberg, Vance Johnson, Allison Phillips, B. Renda, J.D. Rose, Elaine Steinbach and Crystyl Swanson. Not all of them are singers, but somehow the imprecision adds to the verisimilitude of everyday lives. However, what is a total mess is the clumsy lighting design that projects explanatory slides — factory interiors or rows of office cubicles, say — in a great swath across set and actors alike. The light balance is so out of whack that we get actors in the dark or, when they take a few steps either way, overexposed with projections running down their faces like really bad Picasso. The show's been running for a week; hasn't anyone noticed? Through April 28. 17011 Bamwood. 281-587-1020. — DLG

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