BWW Reviews: Marybeth Clark Directs 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL at Charleston Stage

The Dock Street Theatre is a stunning jewel box set in the heart of downtown Charleston. Built on the site of a colonial era theatre, it is the home of Charleston Stage and its professional resident Acting Company made up primarily of young and energetic recent college graduates. Now in its 36th season, the company produces a full season of (mostly) family-friendly plays with a hefty dose of musical comedies.

As its season opener, Charleston Stage mounted a spirited but uneven production of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL. Vocals and characterizations were generally strong, most notably Becca Anderson, who held the show together with her confident, wry interpretation of the long-suffering Violet Newstead. As Judy Bernly, the former housewife turned reluctant secretary, Katrin Murdock's beautiful voice and believable character, which has the strongest growth arc in the play, were also standouts.

Rounding out the trio of female leads, Celine Keefe played Doralee Rhodes (the Dolly Parton role from the film). With requisite blonde wig (which unfortunately obscured much of her face in profile) and huge padded bra, Rhodes's Doralee was tough, broad and brash, lacking the softness or charm that Parton lent to the part . Although she has an attractive voice, Rhodes pushed it to shrillness during her belt moments.

In the role of antagonist Franklin Hart, Jr., the women's lecherous, sticky-fingered boss, Kyle W. Barnette managed to bring goofy likeability to what could be a thankless role. Playing the part of Joe, Violet's office romance, Jesse Siak possessed one of the strongest singing voices of the ensemble.

The script of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL requires a sensitive directorial hand, since the plot centers on sexual harassment in the workplace. At times, the physical encounters between Doralee and her boss were handled crudely, evoking creepiness rather than humor. (At least two audience members stormed out during the show.) Otherwise, director MarybetH Clark and a talented cast managed to weave together a fairly entertaining production out of a dated plotline and forgettable songs.

9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL runs through September 21 at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, S.C.

Photo: The cast of "9 to 5: The Musical" performs "Change It". Courtesy Charleston Stage.

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From This Author Debra Charlton

Debra Charlton is the author of Holistic Shakespeare: An Experiential Learning Approach (Intellect Books 2012). Her reviews and articles on Shakespeare training and performance have (read more...)

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