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9 to 5
a Musical
by Patricia Resnick and Dolly Parton

COMPANY : Theater of the Stars [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 3850

SHOWING : September 28, 2010 - October 03, 2010



9 to 5: The Musical tells the story of three unlikely friends who conspire to take control of their company and learn there's nothing they can't do -- even in a man's world. Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic, 9 to 5: The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business... it's about getting credit and getting even... and it's about to open in Atlanta!

9 to 5: The Musical is based on the hit movie and features DOLLY PARTON's original hit title song along with her new Tony Award® -and Grammy-nominated score. The book is by PATRICIA RESNICK (co-writer of the original screenplay).

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In Idol Hands
by Dedalus
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Okay, I officially confess to being a Musical Geek. Although the musical of “9 to 5” brings absolutely nothing (other than Dolly Parton’s slate of toe-tapping songs) to the story first told in the 1980 film, although (like the movie) it indulges in paper-thin villains and over-the-top plot contrivances, although the Fox’s usual sound problems made most of the voices sound tinny and unexceptional, I still liked it far more than I thought I would.

For this, there’s no one to blame but country music idol Parton, Broadway idol Dee Hoty (“Will Rogers Follies” and “Footloose”), “American Idol” alum Diana DeGarmo, and not-an-idol-yet-but-really-ought-to-be Mamie Parris.

It’s 1979 and recent divorcee Judy Bernly (Ms. Parris) has to bring her no-office-skills experience to a new job as a secretary (NOT an “Administrative Assistant” ). Office Manager Violet Newstead (Ms. Hoty) must show her the ropes, in spite of being overly qualified and overly ambitious. Throw into the mix the busty Doralee Rhodes (Ms. DeGarmo) and a pig of a boss Franklin Hart Jr. (Joseph Mahowald) and we’re off on a romp that goes from kidnapping to extortion to empowerment. Let me assume, for the sake of brevity, that you already know the story.

Along the way, we’re treated to a bunch of Parton-written songs that, while not breaking any new ground, are nonetheless pleasant in the own right, while enhancing the story they support. For me, the musical highlight was Judy’s “power ballad,” “Get Out and Stay Out,” in which she forcefully tells her ex-husband to , well, to basically go [bleep] himself (only using nicer words). This number showed that Ms. Parris is a talent to watch, is a singer who can hold her own with the best. I also liked the well-known title song as well as the Act One closer, “Shine Like the Sun,” Violet’s Here-I-Am anthem, “One of the Boys,” and prissy secretary Roz’s comic “Heart to Hart.”

Diana DeGarmo defies expectations by giving us a good characterization as Doralee, channeling Dolly Parton without slavishly copying her. If her solo “Backwoods Barbie” doesn’t exactly show off her singing chops as well as we may wish, it’s nevertheless a spritely little trifle that lets her show she can “act” a song as well as belt it.

Joseph Mahowald gives us the expected slimy chauvinism with his Franklin Hart, but he also surprises with a pleasant, well-trained baritone that is smoky enough to convince us why he has always “gotten away” with his casual seductions and sophomoric asides.

But it is Dee Hoty’s Violet who is the heart and soul of this production. Without undercutting the marvelous ensemble she centers, she gives us a character who is compelling, funny, driven, and simply a joy to watch. She beautifully “sells” her songs, her character, and the whole story, making us forgive its contrivances as well as its familiarity. There is no trace of the movie’s Lily Tomlin or even he original cast’s Allison Janney here – she has made Violet all her own.

As to the staging, there was an uncomfortable moment when Mr. Mahowald is left dangling from the rafters while the focus is on a song on another part of the stage, and I could have lived without Dolly Parton’s pre-recorded video moments. Other than that, though, the production shifted seamlessly from scene to scene, the 1979 period was nicely evoked without being ridiculed (one chorus member’s Afro aside), and the office nicely transitioned from the soul-lessly (and colorlessly) fluorescent-lit desk warren to the comfortably warm and rosy “makeover” Violet and her co-conspirators created. I also liked the ‘70’s iconic photos that festooned the show curtain.

So, even though this show breaks no new ground and is as shallow as a frat boy’s protestations of love, it’s still an enjoyable romp with a trio of outstanding performances at its center. It’s a tuneful exercise in pop culture, and a pleasant wallow in nostalgia (for both the movie and the era).

And, judging from the joy brought to the stage by the entire cast, all I can say is “What a way to make a living!”

-- Brad Rudy (



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