Student Blog: Working Through 9 TO 5: What a Way to Make a Living!!

One show onto another; from being single to working 9 to 5 in an office- who knew February could get so busy?

By: Feb. 28, 2024
Student Blog: Working Through 9 TO 5: What a Way to Make a Living!!
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Hello, everyone! We’re back on some more show shenanigans this February, onto show number 2. Opening two shows back-to-back in a month might be the most tiring thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve never felt more accomplished. It has definitely been an eventful few weeks and just this week, I found out I was selected for our course’s semesterly cabaret! So much more to do, but I am so very excited!

Before I start to go off on a tangent, let me tell you all about 9 to 5. Our director was a third-year musical theatre student, Tegan M. Gailor, who I’ve known since my first year as she was my assigned study buddy! It was incredible getting to work with her since we don’t get many opportunities as a course to work with one another across the years, so this was the perfect opportunity!

We were in tech from Sunday until Wednesday from 2 to 10 pm almost every day and soon, opening rolled around on Thursday with the grandest closing on Sunday with a full house. We were in rehearsals for 9 to 5 since September 2023, and it did not even feel that long. Whenever someone brings up the fact that we’ve been in rehearsals for six months, it genuinely does not clock in my head that that much time has passed us by.

I still remember audition day after a long day of class and having to learn a dance phrase to the song ‘Around Here’ which is in the show. Auditions are perhaps the most terrifying experiences to me but in the space, I had never felt more confident and safer to make mistakes or look absolutely ridiculous. Though my course mates and I went into that room together, stuck like glue, we ended up losing each other from all the mingling. Everyone was each other’s cheerleader, and it didn’t matter if you’d just met or if you were a stranger. When you were on the floor, you had an entire cheer squad supporting you. I was not able to stay long for the singing auditions as I was down with a cold but I was lucky they accepted self-tape auditions so I was quick to submit my own rendition of ‘Rosalind, Be Merry’ from As You Like It.

The cast list came out fast and I started out with the role of an intern/ ensemble. I was thrilled to have received any role because I got to work with really cool people, and as we progressed through rehearsals, I started to obtain more fun parts. I got to play a step-ladder, a cowboy, foliage, and a French man, all of whom were equally a joy to play. Who knew playing a yurt in You’re A Catch would score me a lifetime of roles as inanimate objects since that was, apparently, the most memorable role I played. On a side note, what I find insane is the fact that the cast members who came to see You’re A Catch would sing it out of nowhere in the rehearsal rooms, and I’d have a bittersweet moment reminiscing the show with everyone. And like I mentioned, everyone liked the yurt acting where I simply held up a stick and smiled with my full face.Student Blog: Working Through 9 TO 5: What a Way to Make a Living!!

Now, back on track, let me bring you through our rehearsal process. We would have 3 rehearsals a week, all of which have their own allocated focus. On Fridays, we would do dance, on Sundays, we we would learn songs and harmonies, and Fridays, we would piece the numbers along with the scenes. So, you can see it’s all been divided according to singing, dancing, and acting, which was rather efficient as we got a lot of stuff completed before sewing up the fragments to make the show whole. Most rehearsals, we had the recurring theatre practice of ‘circle time’ in which we continuously fail to make a proper circle, but that’s the point of it, and we catch up with one another, have our goals set for the rehearsal then disperse.

Many compromises had to be made with how heavily ensemble-based the vocals were in this show so we had vocal captains for each harmony and a Google Drive with all our harmonies recorded for us, courtesy of our music director, Elle Richmond, who also played Roz in the show! For some songs, she had formed what she called The Small Group to solidify harmonies for numbers that did not require a bigger ensemble voice, and the sole power of the group from the wings was enough to fill the auditorium. It’s amazing.

I’d never performed in a show with character shoes before so this was a first, and I will say, I’m a lot better in them now than I was a month before. I can run in them too which I find to be a massive achievement and at most, do a single pirouette. Possibly a double when no one is watching; it’s up to you to believe it. With that, I also had to wear office wear which included a dress and a blazer. It was definitely a trial navigating dance with gear that I don’t wear often but it was like a natural instinct the first time I had to dance in those heels. I had a lot of firsts during this production, mainly because I’ve never played a character well within my age range in a setting like the 1970s, but I love a chance to try something new whenever I can.

Tech/Show week was a long one as we only had three days for tech then the rest of it for the show! We had it over our reading week which marks the midterm break so we did not have classes to worry about. We would be in the Performance Gym (PG) from 2 to 10 pm, as I’d mentioned earlier on, and much like You’re A Catch, a lot of adjustments had to be made to translate the show’s blocking into the space in the PG. To cope with the long hours, we took matters into our own hands by playing games. We had the largest game of Uno with at least more than 10 players and a game of hide and seek, and proceeded to thrive on those two games until we needed to be in performance mode. If you didn’t know, on the show, we have clips of Dolly Parton herself introducing our characters and speaking to the audience, and it was part of the reason there was much to do in tech to get everything put together with the backing tracks and such. Getting to see the Dolly Parton videos was somewhat very exciting. We’d never practiced with the videos and the tracks all at the same time until the day before opening, and it was so cool seeing everything come together for the first time.

Student Blog: Working Through 9 TO 5: What a Way to Make a Living!! We had a lot of fun during tech and on the night before, with one last run of the opening number, we decided to go wild. We were grabbing the most ridiculous props to bring on stage with us and had the best laugh. We had office workers in beards and pointed dwarf hats, we had prop guns swinging around, actors popping up where they shouldn’t be and creepy cutout masks of one of the leads scattered about. It was a time!!!

It all worked out rather smoothly, and when things were solidified, the cast loved to have a little more fun. The fun never stopped during tech. Plenty would change in the show night by night, but they were not too drastic and they would only be in scenes that were open to improvisation. For my one scene as an intern, I am to investigate a body underneath a sheet and we have always had a set actor but as the nights went on, we’ve had so many people play the body, mainly creative team. It would always be a surprise for the performer playing Violet who has to remove the sheet. She just never knew who she would come face to face with every night. The actor who plays Franklin Hart would improvise a little waiting scene in his office, either playing air guitar with their leg or singing a song that came from an inside joke that sent some of us hollering in painful silence backstage. We would just never know what we’re in for each night, but that was the joy of this show--no two shows have ever been the same. From the rehearsal room to the stage, we’ve always had a talent for keeping things fresh.

To have been able to accomplish a musical this great with classes and assignments on top of everything, I’ve ever had more respect for the cast and creative team for all their efforts.

As a treat, I was able to convince Tegan to say hello on here with a little director's note:
'Hi, I'm Tegan. I choose 9 to 5 as I knew the audience for who we thought would audition would be mostly female. With this, I also knew that this would be a huge success as it’s a show about women, directed by a woman. 

As this was my first time directing adults as I’ve had experience directing children, it was a huge eye-opener for the role and the responsibility that came with it. The experience was hard work but it was great. It’s allowed me to seek opportunities for directing in other areas and for other companies.'


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