BWW Reviews: 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL is a Toe-Tapping Good Time
Adaptations of feature films to stage musicals are a dime a dozen these days. However, if you want to get a Texas audience excited really quickly, tell them you're doing a musical based on the 1980 film 9 to 5 and that Dolly Parton has written the music and lyrics for the musical you're doing. You'll see a twinkle in the eye and a seat sold. Add in Patricia Resnick's book based on the film's screenplay, fantastic community talent from the Pearland area, and throw it all together inside a great space, and you've got a production of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL that is truly worth seeing.
9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL rehashes the familiar film's plot, inserting catchy tunes throughout. Audiences will fall in love with Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly, and Daralee Rhodes all over again as they struggle in the male dominated business world and against their egotistical and sexist boss, Franklin Hart, Jr. The women fantasize about killing him, but things move from bad to worse when Violet thinks she accidently poisoned him. Once the women come to realize that Franklin intends to blackmail them with information about the accidental poisoning, they kidnap him, take control of the office, and make some changes for the better.
Directing and choreographing the production, Nathan C. Hand deserves strong kudos. Knowing that every member of a community theatre's cast and crew are on volunteered time, I don't look at what happens on the stage the same way I would in a professional theatre. However, with a slightly larger budget for more glitz and glam in the visual presentation, I'd be willing to bet that audiences would not know that Nathan C. Hand's cast and crew wasn't professional. He directed this cast and crew to perform well above my expectations. Lines were delivered with tangible emotionality and the dancing and singing was great. Nathan C. Hand has masterfully coached his cast to deliver a highly entertaining evening of theater, and there is no denying that they do.
Monique Von Deylen is the star of this production of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL, playing and singing her way through laudable performances as Judy Bernly. She makes Judy's transition from the weak and mild ex-housewife to the strong, independent woman believable and enjoyable for the audience. The rich emotionality Monique Von Deylen layers into "Get Out and Stay Out," her shining solo moment at the climax of the show, is simply wonderful.
Playing Violet Newstead, Donna Dagley perfectly conveys the poise of a businesswoman, but is defeated by the impenetrable glass ceiling at her office. Donna Dagley sings her role well, and shines on "Around Here" and "One of the Boys."
Andrea Mashman has large shoes to fill, playing Doralee Rhodes. Dolly Parton played Doralee in the film and Megan Hilty (playing Ivy on NBC's SMASH) originated the role on Broadway. Andrea Mashman keenly makes the role her own, while preserving all the comedy behind Doralee. She easily reduces the audience to laughter time and time again. Additionally, Andrea Mashman's delicate Country Western signing voice deftly moves us, especially her delightfully tender rendition of "Backwoods Barbie."
Brandon Del Castillo plays the vile, egotistical, sleazy slime ball Franklin Hart, Jr. to perfection. He skillfully makes the audience guffaw and bray with laughter as he objectifies the women in his office. He is so wonderfully detestable, that every member of the audience gleefully cheers on the girls as they fantasize about killing him. Moreover, his rendition of "Here For You" is hilarious and well sung.
Office Suck-up, Roz Keith, is well played and sung by Rae Lynn Cuddihy. While the audience will often dislike her because she tries to win the boss over by throwing others under the bus, Rae Lynn Cuddihy adroitly rounds out her performance by bringing a sympathetic and softer side to the character when beautifully singing "Heart to Hart" and "5 to 9."
Matthew Schell breathes excellent life into clumsy, awkward Joe. He warms our hearts with his office crush on Violet Newstead. His compassionate vocals on "Let Love Grow" are well placed and well stated.
The rest of the ensemble does remarkable jobs with their characters as well. Standout moments are Kaleb Edwards and Evin Johnson's energetic and explosive choreography.
Scenic Design by Robyn and Ed Legris is simplistic but effective. They utilize a variety of pieces on casters and curtains to allow for easy transitions between scenes. Personally, I wish set changes happened more quickly considering the design, but this is no detriment to the quality of the performance.
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