BWW Review: FAC's 9 TO 5 a Couple Hours of Light Entertainment
9 to 5: The Musical takes place in 1979-a fact the Fine Arts Center hammers home with an abundance of geometric, high-contrast design, bell-bottoms, and loud shirts-but the story it tells feels oddly contemporary: hostile work environments, wage inequality, sexual harassment. About the only thing different is that the regular eight-hour shift described by the title is a distant, wistful memory.
Not that Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick's musicalized version of Resnick's 1980 comic film is any kind of incisive commentary on corporate ethics. At best, it's a harmless piece of fluff, a wish-fulfillment revenge fantasy about sticking it to the man. But it's entertaining fluff, and Nathan Halvorson and his cast work hard to keep the audience entertained.
The man who needs sticking-to is Franklin Hart (Stephen Day), a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" who alternately exploits and demeans his female underlings. Three women in particular-veteran Violet (Miriam Roth) is constantly passed over for promotion due to her gender, secretary Doralee (Crystal Mosser) suffers both Hart's unwanted advances and the gossip resulting from them, and new hire Judy (Jennifer DeDominici) finds herself the target of alternating verbal abuse and lewd innuendo. Something's gotta give, and through a series of farcical twists the three women find themselves in a position to avenge themselves on their horrible boss and improve the professional environment for everybody involved.
All three female leads get their opportunity to shine. Mosser, all big hair, big earrings, and big heart, gradually reveals Doralee to be both smarter and stronger than she appears. Roth's Violet, a widow working to support herself and her teenage son, perseveres in the face of adversary and has several sweet moments with Joe (an adorable Zachary Seliquini Guzman), a junior accountant who pays her court. But the heart of the evening is DeDominici's Judy, who enters the story as an overdressed housewife forced into the workplace after her husband abandons her for a much younger woman. Heartbroken and adrift, she spends the balance of the evening learning not to apologize for herself before bringing the house down with her empowered eleven o'clock number "Get Out and Stay Out." The only cast member who comes close to equaling this impact is Jen Lennon in the role of Hart's insanely devoted assistant, who delivers a creepily passionate paean to her boss in "Heart to Hart."
Even so, none of Parton's songs quite match the bass-thruming, take-this-job-and-shove-it catharsis of the title number, which bookends the musical. But the space in between offers enough laughs delivered by an energetic cast to keep the show from feeling like just another day at the office.
9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL plays now through June 12th at the Fine Arts Center, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets, contact the box office at 719-634-5581 or visit csfineartscenter.org.
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From This Author Christi Esterle