Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

"9 to 5" opens Jan. 4 at Show Palace Dinner Theatre

Has it really been 32 years since Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda burst across the screen in the deliciously feminist movie 9 to 5, the tale of three secretaries fed up with their lecherous boss and the eternal glass ceiling? So fed up that they take the boss prisoner and stage a hilarious office coup?

Set in the late 1970s, 9 to 5 came at the tail end of the open sexism of Mad Men's 1960s, but, even so, nothing had really changed all that much when it came to office power and perks.

The movie was turned into a stage musical in 2008, hit Broadway in the spring of 2009, and will open on Jan. 4 for an eight-week run at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.

It's filled with Ms. Parton's rollicking rockabilly songs, soulful ballads and feminist declarations, in between writer Patricia Resnick's biting bits of dialogue. The local production is being directed by Creative Loafing's "Best Director" 2009 and 2012 winner Karla Hartley, with musical direction by Michael T. Sebastian and choreography by Busch Gardens dancer/choreographer Erika Womack-Brown.

Women (and men) under age 40 might roll their eyes in disbelief at the outrageous antics of Consolidated Industries president Franklin Hart Jr. (Pete Clapsis, Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!), who bullies the "girls" and takes credit for their accomplishments, though those of a certain age will nod in wry recognition.

It opens as newly divorced Judy Bernly (Heather Baird, Busch Gardens, Princess Cruises) tremulously arrives at her first-ever paying job, and no-nonsense office manager Violet Newstead (Susan Haldeman, Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music) takes her under her wing. Later, office veteran Doralee Rhodes (Nicole Borysowicz, Show Palace newcomer) tries to befriend Judy, but is rebuffed without explanation.

After a series of infuriating events at the office that day, the three women wind up at Violet's house, sharing a joint and fantasizing about how they would like to torture their tormentor — one Mr. Franklin Hart Jr.

The next day, office snitch Roz Keith (Jill Godfrey, Sound of Music), who adores Mr. Hart, overhears the women talking about their fantasy and tattles to the boss. Hart confronts and threatens Doralee, who grabs some telephone wires, hog-ties Hart and calls on her cohorts Violet and Judy to help her stash him away. They string him up in his own house, then plot their office takeover.

From there, things get better at the office but more complicated at Hart's place, especially when Judy's philandering ex-husband shows up there and the big boss, Mr. Tinsworthy (Blain Sumler, Show Palace debut) drops in at the office.

The musical has all the tunes from the original movie, plus several of Ms. Parton's new ones — the defiant Backwoods Barbie, where Doralee laments being best known for her body, not brains; I Just Might, when the women day-dream about what they could do if only given the chance; and Shine Like the Sun and Change It, the women's determined vow to battle for what is due them.

The 17-member cast also has Show Palace veterans Justin Lore (New York Nights), William E. Masuck (7 Brides/Brothers), Sarah Smith (Show Palace Christmas), Derek Baxter (This Magic Moment), Nicole Cavalani (Sound of Music) and Kate O'Connell (Jackpot). Also performing are Show Palace newcomers John Michael, Amanda Cheyenne Manis, Leanne Germann, Elizabeth DeMarco and Georgia Mallory.

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