Thursday, February 10, 2011

9 TO 5: The Musical • The Fox

In case you didn't know, this 1980's movie was adapted for the stage a couple of years ago, and now this girl-powered "little guy gets the better of the boss" musical has punched in at the Fox.

The show follows the movie pretty closely with only a couple of exceptions (Violet gets a love interest and you know... people sing and dance) and is drenched in a 1980's vibe.  Even the show curtain displays all sorts of images from around that time -- Jimmy Carter, the Muppets, Rubik's Cubes, Charlie's Angels...  I would have taken a picture of it, but I didn't because well… that would be illegal.

For those who've never seen or heard of the movie (both of you…) the show centers around Violet Newstead (Dee Hoty) -- the competent, qualified, but disregarded office manager, Doralee Rhodes (Diana DeGarmo) -- the busty secretary who's assumed to be the office floozie, the newly divorced and trying to make it on her own Judy Bernly (Mamie Parris), and their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss, Franklin Hart, Jr. (Joseph Mahowald).

Many of the iconic scenes and lines from the movie are included in this production.  Everything from the girls getting stoned at Violet's place, that wacky hospital scene, Hart's… "confinement", the girls' fantasy scenes of how they would "off the boss" and of course the office lush Margaret (Jane Blass) who gets a lot a laughs.  "Atta Girl!".

Dee Hoty as Violet Newstead
in 9 to 5: The Musical.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Some notable additions to the show since its run in New York was a thankfully scaled down set (the Broadway LCD screens were a bit much).  You'd never know anything was scaled down, though.  There are these stalls on wheels type things with different images on them that represent everything from file cabinets and Violet's garage to Hart's office library and a parking garage. The ensemble work their butts off not only singing and dancing, but moving these things around at an almost frenetic pace.  There are also pre-recorded cameo appearances by the woman herself, Dolly Parton, serving as a narrator of sorts.

Diana DeGarmo as Doralee Rhodes
and Joseph Mahowald as Franklin
Hart, Jr. in 9 to 5: The Musical.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Dee Hoty (thrice Tony nominated) was a wonderful Violet, and her "One of the Boys" number was a highlight for me.  Diana DeGarmo, runner-up in the third season of "American Idol", was delightful as Doralee, southern drawl and all -- once you settle into it.  I swear it seems like more and more of these "American Idol" people are workin' it on the theatre stage nowadays.  Her "this is who I am" number, "Backwoods Barbie" was very Dolly Parton.  Reminded me of  Dolly's "Coat of Many Colors".  And she gets to deliver that famous line from the movie, "…I'll change you from a rooster to a hen in one shot!".  Mamie Parris as Judy gets the big eleven o'clock number with "Get Out and Stay Out".  Such a great voice.  Seriously.  Along with Jane Blass as Margaret, Kristine Zbnorik also gets plenty of laughs as Roz, who is hopelessly in love with the boss.  One thing that struck me watching this show was that all of these characters have almost ridiculously clear-cut numbers that tell you who they are and what they want, and that goes a long way in helping you become invested in them and how everything turns out.  Now, I would assume that 99.9% of musicals in general have the same devices, but I don't know…  The ones in this show are just so… clear cut.  (Can you tell I've been reading me some theatre books?)

Cast of the National Touring Production
of 9 to 5: The Musical.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Anyhoo, I had a great time when I saw this in New York, and because the show seems to be a little tighter now with the tour, I enjoyed it even more here.  It'll be on the clock until February 20th at the Fox.

Joy to the Girls!

9 TO 5

Book by Patricia Resnick
Music/lyrics by Dolly Parton
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.
through February 20 | tickets: $24 - $66
Performances Tuesday to Friday 8pm, Saturday 2 & 8pm, Sunday 2pm, Sunday February 13 at 7:30pm, Thursday February 17 at 1pm

Dee Hoty (Violet Newstead), Diana DeGarmo (Doralee Rhodes), Mamie Parris (Judy Bernly), Joseph Mahowald (Franklin Hart, Jr.) and Kristine Zbnorik (Roz).

Choreography by Jeff Calhoun; scenic design by Kenneth Foy; costume design by William Ivey Long; lighting design by Ken Billington; sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy; projection design by Benjamin Pearcy; music director, additional orchestrations, vocal and incidental music arrangements by Stephen Oremus; hair and wig design by Paul Huntley & Edward J. Wilson; aerial effects design by Paul Rubin; stage manager, E. Cameron Holsinger.

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