9 to 5: The Musical

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Directed by Russell Spencer

Review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved

Anytime the 1980 movie 9 to 5 comes on television, I watch it. The adventures of Judy Bernly, Doralee Roberts and Violet Newsted; three women who are trying to survive in a male-dominated corporate world; it makes me laugh and giggle every time.

Fast forward 28 years and Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick collaborated to create 9 to 5: The Musical, which premiered in Los Angeles in September 2008 and moved to Broadway in April 2009. Despite a few Tony nominations the production didn’t last long on the Great White Way, closing in September 2009. I am happy to say that it has had a vibrant life in tours and community theaters since.

So, many of us gathered at Clarksville Little Theatre to listen to and enjoy the Country-Western styling of Dolly Parton and laugh at the hi-jinks that unfold at the fictional Consolidated Sales Office Building. And yes there are laughs a plenty.

As the ensemble “tumbles out of bed”, they reluctantly make their way to the offices of Consolidated where they enter the mundane day in day out routine of corporate America in the ‘80s. We meet Judy, expertly played by local theater veteran Kathy Chaney, a recently divorced housewife who begins a new life and job under the tutelage of long-suffering Violet Newsted (Heidi Platt), who has tried to climb the ladder of success, only to be trampled on over and over again. As Judy is introduced to the lecherous company President Franklin Hart (Jamie Bagshaw), his comely secretary Doralee (Holly Smelson) introduces herself. Although she seems warm and friendly, it is made clear that Hart has been spreading rumors that she is his mistress.

Upon hearing this news Doralee threatens Hart in one of the funniest moments of the musical, delightfully executed by Ms. Smelson. As all three women gather at the elevator they each convey their dislike for Hart before going off to indulge in some recreational “Maui Wowie” marijuana. While under the influence the trio share revenge fantasies about their sexist boss. There are some crucial differences between this sequence in the movie and how the scenes play out onstage, but they are equally effective. Kudos to the costume and props department for their creativity in recreating these vignettes.

In the next scene, Violet believes she may have accidentally poisoned Hart, a misapprehension reinforced by a rumor that Hart is indeed in the hospital. The source of the rumor is Roz Keith (Marcy Ziegler), Hart’s eyes and ears in the office, which reveals to Hart what she overheard in the bathroom about the poisoning. When the trio come to Hart to explain the mistake he threatens them with jail and before you know it he is tied up and kidnapped and then placed in a harness at his home.

The remainder of the plot follows the trio’s efforts to build leverage against Hart by documenting his unscrupulous business practices. As the ladies ask for accounting assistance from Joe (Isaiah Hein), he reveals his feelings for Violet and in the tender Let Love Grow.

One night, while Judy is watching Hart, her husband Dick shows up at the door. Brad Lambert’s Dick was spot on as a stereotypical 1980’s cheating husband who’s trying to pull off being younger than he is, complete with a bad toupee.

As a whole the ensemble is an absolute delight to watch. With choreography provided by Kathy Chaney and musical direction by Doug Jones they handled the singing and dancing well, save for an occasional misstep or missed note that may have been attributable to opening-night jitters.

I really enjoyed Marcy Zeigler’s Heart to Hart as well as Holly Smelson’s Redneck Barbie; each number providing emotional insight for each character. Some of the funniest moments came from the supporting players, such as Jordan Taylor’s Margaret and Lauren Kolter’s Maria.

Just a few nit-picks that I have would be long scene changes and maybe a little less stage makeup on Ms. Smelson’s décolletage.

The musical doesn’t veer too far away from the movie and is an enjoyable romp about getting even with a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.

Bravo Tutti

9 to 5: The Musical

May 8, 9, 14, 15, & 16 at 8PM,
May 10 at 2PM.

Clarksville Little Theatre
301 E. Montgomery Avenue
Clarksville, IN


[box_light]Annette SkaggsAnnette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.[/box_light]