BWW Review: 9 TO 5 at North Texas Performing Arts
"Working 9 to 5!" Is a lyric many of us growing up, sang in the back of our cars as our mothers blasted Dolly Parton's hit. The film, released December 19, 1980, is still a favorite of many today. North Texas Performing Arts tackled this Dolly Parton's nostalgic classic that is still all too timely in the present.
9 to 5 is an office satire about three female secretaries. Violet Newstead (Sky Williams), Judy Bernly (Rachel Poole), and Doralee Rhodes (Mary Margaret Gates) decide to get revenge on their tyrannical, sexist boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (Jared Culpepper) by abducting him and running the business themselves. Violet who has been passed over for promotion because she is a woman, Doralee and Judy, spend a night together having marijuana induced fantasies of killing the slave-driving chauvinist.
With direction by Rebecca Lowrey, and choreography by Jessica Humphrey, the cast performed Parton's musical terrifically, especially in the opening number. You can catch Dolly in the opening number. Would it be a Parton show without a pre-recorded appearance of Dolly to start off? No. No it would not. Costumes by Hope Cox were perfection in all aspects of time period and look. The time period approved props by Allison Basile completed the look of the stage down to the tiniest detail. The set was beautiful and ingenious. The backdrop (by Karen Elchinger) was a glowing silhouette of the New York skyline with cutouts revealing the band below. The set build, on four different platforms (designed by Kennedy Smith), were two-sided rolling platforms moved around the stage in scene transitions. These and the rolling 1970s desks were beautifully used, however could have been smaller or more easily movable. There were moments where the cast seemed to struggle to move the platforms or desks and took the audience out of the story for a bit.
I have to give a special shout out to the three leading ladies in this performance. Williams' Violet was every woman's struggle in the modern world. A working mother who never really gets the deserved recognition for her hard earned position. Williams played her with sympathy and grace that connected with the audience. Poole's Judy, originally played by Jane Fonda in the film, was truly a joy. Poole quite literally sung the house down in her "Get Out and Stay Out". Her voice is a powerhouse to say the least. And of course Gates, filling the shoes of Parton as Doralee, did an incredible job bringing the lovable character to the stage. From her incredible voice to her unmistakable confidence, Gates became Dolly and absolutely did her justice.
Honorable mentions go to Jared Culpepper as Franklin Hart, Jr. the misogynistic boss, Brittany Brown as Roz Keith, the secretary in love with Hart and the rest of the incredible ensemble. Lowrey did beautiful work adding story in the transitions with the ensemble. It helped make the transitions apart of the story, making little added moments like this golden. The choreography by Humphrey was fun and vibrant and in every number and the ensemble performed it well.
I would definitely recommend seeing this production of 9 to 5. The show runs through March 1st at the Willow Bend Center of the Arts. You can purchase your tickets at NTPARep.org.