Actor takes on new challenges in ATI’s ‘Working’


Adam Tran is a firm believer in getting out of his comfort zone. 

Tran has performed with Actors Theatre of Indiana twice before, both times as Elvis Presley in “Million Dollar Quartet.” To get the role, he put himself on a crash course to learn to play the guitar.

Now, he faces a different challenge in appearing in ATI’s “Working, The Musical,” April 29 to May 22, at the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

The musical is adapted from the book by Studs Terkel examining people from all walks of life. Tran’s challenge is, he doesn’t typically perform in true musicals.

“‘Million Dollar Quartet’ was a jukebox musical,” Tran said. “This is a musical with a capital ‘M’ and I don’t ever do those. As I get older, I think doing things scary are good for me. If it’s good for me personally, it’s probably good for me professionally.”

Tran plays Man 1, which is a variety of roles, including an IT person, nursing home caretaker and delivery worker.

“There’s not a lot of (Bob) Fosse in my resume,” Tran said of the famous choreographer. “I’m terrified of all of it. I was raised by blue-collar people. If you are bad at something, get good at it. The things I’m afraid of are the things I look back on and end up enjoying the most.”

Tran, who lives in Broad Ripple, was a late addition to the show. He said ATI co-founders Don Farrell and Cynthia Collins called him several months ago and asked if he would appear in the show.

“I told them no because I was just starting a personal training business and it was taking all my time,” Tran said. “Don reached back to me and said they lost an actor and was there any chance I was more free than I was before.” 

Fortunately, Tran said he had a better handle on running his business.

Lillie Eliza Thomas, who lives in Orlando, saw the ATI post about auditions for the Actors’ Equity Association and Playbill.

“I did my research, and I loved the background of the show,” Thomas said. “I knew songs from the show. I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Thomas performed in a cabaret that featured “Just a Housewife” as one of the songs. 

“What l love about this is show is, it appreciates people who have to work so hard at jobs that people don’t find as appealing,” Thomas said. “It shines a light on them. I’m glad they are getting the love they deserve.”

A full-time environment engineer for a consulting firm, Thomas said her company has allowed her to work remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Aviva Pressman, from Los Angeles, also learned about the production through the Actors’ Equity website.

“I think it’s a lot of fun to play multiple roles,” Pressman said. “You don’t just have the challenge of creating a character, you have the challenge of creating in a short amount of time, making it clear it’s different from the other characters you’re playing.”

Pressman plays a nanny, mill worker, receptionist, flight attendant and woman in a cubicle.

As Man 2, Indianapolis resident Allen Sledge plays a mason, iron worker, fireman and a newsroom assistant.

“It has its challenges, but it keeps it fresh,” he said. “You get to spend time delving into different characters and their stories.”

Sledge heard about the show several years ago.

“I was working at a summer camp for kids and my boss was in the original production,” he said. 

Sledge said the characters’ monologues are the most challenging aspect for him.

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