9 to 5: The Musical
Three frazzled secretaries join together and become unlikely partners in crime as they try to take down their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigoted boss in Theater By the Sea’s splendid production of the comedy, "9 to 5: The Musical."
With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, who made her screen debut in the 1980 film starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and book by Patricia Resnick, "9 to 5: The Musical" opened on Broadway in 2009. It takes place in an office setting thirty years earlier, a bygone era when employees punched timecards, telephones rested atop your desk rather than in your pocket, and typing errors were corrected with Wite-Out.
Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett, "9 to 5" isn’t about antiquated technology but rather the role of women in the workplace. While there had certainly been some progress since the "Mad Men" decade, women in senior management positions were still rare or nonexistent, and having to run errands or fetch coffee for your flirtatious boss -- when not being chased around the desk, that is -- was a commonplace activity.
Franklin Hart (Kevin Pariseau) is the head of Consolidated Companies and also its resident letch. Under his employ are Violet (Jan Leigh Herndon), the widowed single mom and 15-year veteran who can’t seem to climb the corporate ladder, Judy (Lulu Lloyd), the just-divorced former housewife with no professional experience and Doralee (Maggie McDowell), a busty southern blonde and self-proclaimed "Backwoods Barbie," whose female co-workers treat her "like a bastard at a family reunion."
Scenic Designer Bert Scott presents the Consolidated office atmosphere with impressive detail, complete with elevator doors, old school metal desks and even a room dedicated entirely for photocopying.
Following a few production numbers, including a new rendition of the catchy title track and "I Just Might," a pleasant ballad from the leading ladies, the real fun begins when Violet is passed up again for a promotion and during her tirade reveals to a shocked Doralee that Hart has boasted about having an affair with her.
Meanwhile, Judy becomes equally disgusted when she learns a co-worker was unjustly fired, so these three determined women unite and unexpectedly take their boss hostage. Ironically, no one seems to mind or even notice he’s missing, except his assistant, Roz (Melanie Souza).
The ensuing screwball antics are undeniably silly yet amusing and entertaining. Furthermore, you can’t help but root for these cagey ladies and wonder if they’ll get away with it. Other than Violet’s accounting guy love interest, Joe (Scott Guthrie), the trio hasn’t changed much, so fans of the film will especially enjoy getting reacquainted with them.
Pariseau’s spot-on portrayal of Hart is laughably lecherous and Souza is equally comical as his spellbound sidekick, Roz. Herndon delivers an especially earnest performance as Violet, and McDowell’s Doralee is feisty and unfaltering.
The highlight of the show belongs to Lloyd when Judy dismisses her adulterous ex-husband with the heart rending but hopeful song, "Get Out and Stay Out." In addition to her remarkable voice, the actress perfectly conveys her character’s innocence and newfound courage.
Theater By the Sea’s production of "9 to 5" has some great laughs, fine performances, a lively soundtrack and a daily-grind storyline familiar to everyone.
"9 to 5: The Musical" runs through August 11 at Ocean State Theatre Company’s Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck. For info or tickets, visit Theatre By the Sea’s website.