BWW Reviews: Dolly Parton¬'s Colorful, Energetic 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL Plays Theatre by the Sea
9 to 5: the Musical brims with infectious energy from the first notes of the title song; the production’s engaging cast of characters and its madcap tale of corporate retribution keep that momentum going from start to finish.
Based on the 1980 film, 9 to 5's stage adaptation follows the unlikely friendship that blossoms between three co-workers – Violet, Doralee and Judy – at Consolidated Industries. The women bond while commiserating over their tension-filled office space, a toxic work environment created and maintained by their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss, Franklin Hart, Jr.
Director/choreographer Russell Garrett astutely focuses TBTS’s production squarely on the relationship between the women, and doing so centers 9 to 5, building heart and dimension into the show’s big laughs and over-the-top revenge plot. Props and set pieces compliment the scenes, never overshadowing the storyline or the actors, and the show’s dance numbers are energetic, skillful and present effortlessly on Matunuck’s stage.
Jan Leigh Herndon plays Violet, a devoted single mother and 15-year veteran at Consolidated. In spite of Violet’s dedication and professionalism, she is routinely denied job promotions while the company’s (often less-qualified) men advance through the ranks. Herndon is ideal in this role – cynical, poised, dry and witty – and she carries everything from song-and-dance numbers to slapstick comedy to the show’s more grounded, serious scenes without missing a beat.
Maggie McDowell is a firecracker as Hart’s southern-belle secretary Doralee, whose pretty face and attractive figure have made her the target of Hart’s unwelcome attentions and of a particularly nasty thread of office gossip. McDowell presents Doralee as both self-aware and self-reliant, and her voice is well-suited to the country flavor of 9 to 5’s musical numbers.
Judy (Lulu Lloyd), recently divorced and joining the working world for the first time, is Consolidated’s newest employee, trying to survive one workday – and one Xerox machine – at a time. Lloyd is a strong singer with a rich, warm voice, and that warmth translates to her portrayal of Judy as well. She ably manages Judy’s transition from timid newcomer to confident, independent woman, all while retaining the character’s core traits and sweet personality.
TBTS’s talented cast also includes Kevin Pariseau as the patronizing, philandering Franklin Hart, Jr. Pariseau plays Hart with lots of panache and relish, especially during his character’s more ridiculous moments. Melanie Souza is the ubiquitous Roz, Hart’s love-struck personal assistant, and she packs lots of personality into Roz’s drab business suits. Elise Castle is especially comical as Consolidated’s monotone, flask-toting secretary Margaret.
Theatre by the Sea cautions that 9 to 5 contains adult language and themes. Much of this content is played for laughs, but the show would retain its heart and humor – and be accessible to a wider audience – without the more risqué elements of the production.
9 to 5: the Musical runs through August 11, 2012 at Theatre by the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI. Ticket prices range from $39-54 and rush seating and group discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased online at www.theatrebythesea.com or by phone (401) 782-TKTS (8587).
Pictured from left: Lulu Lloyd (Judy), Jan Leigh Herndon (Violet) and Maggie McDowell (Doralee) with Kevin Pariseau (center, Franklin Hart, Jr.). Photo by Mark Turek.