9 to 5: The Musical was based on the 1980 movie Nine to Five, Dolly Parton’s first movie hit. Parton herself wrote the music to the musical adaptation of this story. This workplace comedy centers around three unlikely conspirators, Violet, a widowed mother, Judy, a recent divorcee, and Doralee, the good-hearted and full-chested spitfire (the role that Parton portrayed in the movie). Fed up with being patted on the rear and passed over for promotions, the gals take workplace matters into their own hands to prove that a feminine touch can also make good business sense.
9 to 5 Makes the Mundane Fun and Musical
HE SAID: I could write about how this show is about the importance of looking past the superficial aspects of someone to see their true contributions and worth. I could write about how its about respect for all people. I could even go on about how it’s a fun trip back in time and fun staging of an iconic movie. It is all of those things. But for me, it was a entertaining break from everyday life in an office setting that gave me ample opportunity to laugh at the ridiculousness of office life. If you work or have ever worked in an office, chances are that you will relate to some of the strict bogus policies, office stereotypes, and difficult bosses.
SHE SAID: For me, the entertainment was more striking than the message, but upon reflection it really was about learning about how easily people can transcend stereotypes (namely those that impacted office politics in the later ’70s and early ’80s). Although not quite as bedazzled and fabulous as the recent chick-flick-turned-musical Legally Blonde, it certainly shares a lot of girl-power themes and inspirational female belting. It’s a bit of a period piece, confirmed by the multi-colored collage of pop culture from 1979 that decorates the proscenium, and keeping the time frame in mind is crucial to prevent the audience from wondering how the threat of a lawsuit couldn’t prevent most of the major plot points.
Touring Design Skinny N’ Sweet
HE SAID: The curtain/scrim were collaged with images of period appropriate icons – Muppets, Skinny N’ Sweet, Donna Summer, etc. – immediately pulling people into the period in a fun way. I could hear people around us pointing out different images as if it were a game. And those details were present in the entirety of the wonderful design. The set has been scaled back from the Broadway production, perhaps even more so than is typically seen in a national tour, but is fantastically creative and works well to create a perfectly matched environment for the story.
SHE SAID: The scaled-back production works very well on the road. As Dolly Parton wrote in her program note, “when we were putting the road show together, I thought, ‘Wow… it’s so much more natural, easier and so much more fun.” And it certainly is fun! The ensemble, in crisp but nostalgic 80’s business attire, were bright and charming as they sang/danced their way through the fun-loving musical numbers.
Hoty, DeGarmo & Parris Show Us Who’s In Charge
HE SAID: The ensemble was fantastic! I was blown away by the robust sound and beautiful harmonies they made and the dancing was splendid as well. By far, the standout from the ensemble was local native Jesse JP Johnson whose dancing was very impressive. But this show is driven by the main three women – Dee Hoty, Diana DeGarmo, and Mamie Parris – and they are each powerhouses. Hoty, playing Violet Newstead, is a three time Tony Nominee and that brilliance is wonderfully on display in this show. DeGarmo, most notably the runner-up in season 3 of American Idol but a Broadway vet in her own right, perfectly embodies the fierce spirit of Doralee Rhodes with all the vocal chops needed to step into the Dolly Parton role. And last but not least by any means is Parris, who portrays Judy Bernly and all but stops the show with her unbelievable voice in the song “Get Out and Stay Out”.
SHE SAID: The three leading women really shared the spotlight, showcasing their different brands of frustration with their different singing styles throughout. Their voices were so incredibly powerful that at a few times I couldn’t pull their individual voices out of the overpowering resonance of great sound. Hoty embodied an admirable, no-nonsense kind of strength that was hard to ignore, making it even more infuriating that her character was so crudely overlooked in the workplace. DeGarmo was just buzzing with charm , and she was as pleasant to watch as her skillful, twangy voice was nice to listen to. But Mamie Parris was really in another realm of vocal talent. Especially in her 11 o’clock number, mentioned above, her belt sailed effortlessly through the house and sent very welcome chills down my spine.
Need a vacation? 9 to 5 a Refreshing Treat!
THEY SAID: Some people may see this show and tell you its just another attempt at cashing in on something that was truly creative. The movie is widely seen as one of the film industry’s first pro-fem flicks, giving it somewhat of an iconic place. However, the Broadway version, in spite of being nominated for several Tonys, only played around 150 performances, which is a flop by any account. So those people might be right to some extent. But those people would be leading you astray with a inaccurate blanket perspective that doesn’t cover a full picture. There are some great songs in the show and even more amazing talent. The story from the film is still very much in tact, so fans of that should get on board as well. Not every show can bring the entire house to tears like with Next to Normal, but not every show should. This show is refreshingly entertaining and a lock for a great time at the theatre.
For a full plot synopsis and history of 9 to 5: The Musical, see the wikipedia article. 9 to 5: The Musical, presented by Denver Center Attractions plays through May 8 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Click the banner below for tickets and more information.