Based on a 1980 film of the same name, 9 TO 5 made a seriously successful adaptation to the stage in 2008, when the musical premiered in Los Angeles in September and went on to Broadway in 2009. With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, who cut a hit single from the title song, this was a show with lots of bubbling life. From the book by Patricia Resnick based on a screenplay by Colin Higgins (who directed the film) and Resnick, 9 TO 5 received multiple award nominations and walked away with the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards for Best Musical Score (Dolly Parton) and Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler). This was Dolly Parton’s first film, which marked her acceptance into the popular culture. The Kentwood players, with encouragement from and backing by the Collins Law Group, are proud to revive 9 TO 5 in 2022 just in time for the holiday season.
The time is 1979 and the place is almost any corporate headquarters in the U.S. The employees at Consolidating Companies are not happy campers. Under the supervision of CEO Franklin Hart, Jr. (Brian Pirnat), employees’ rights have been whittled away until getting up in the morning has become an unwelcome task. They’re not even permitted to keep a family photo on their desks. And then the unexpected happens: three of the downtrodden “girls” who man the desks, typewriters, and copy machines decide to take matters into their own hands. Doralee Rhodes (Amy Coles in Parton’s film role) is sick and tired of being chased around the desk by her boss, who has wicked fantasies way before the “Me Too” movement. Violet Newstead (Alison Boole in Lily Tomlin’s film role) has been passed over for promotion one time too many – while her former male trainees are now using the executive bathrooms. Judy Bernly (Elizabeth A. Bouton Summerer in Jane Fonda’s film role) has just returned to the work force after years as a housewife after her husband divorced her in favor of his cute 19-year-old secretary.
Cleverly directed by Kirk Larson. 9 TO 5 is a funny, cute, sad commentary on corporate life in 1979, a time when the glass ceiling was impenetrable and gifted women assumed the role of paid servant in order to keep their jobs. A time when being “one of the boys” paid big dividends and sexual favors were corporate currency. The production featured several actors with strong professional voices (including the three ladies in charge of the revolution) and high-five kicking skills. The production team does a credible job of creating the many scenes in the play. Shawn Summerer clearly planned set design to allow for frequent, large scale scene changes. Musical director Catherine Rahm and choreographer Marie Madera Gleerup made sure that production numbers were flexible and grabbed the audience’s attention – ably assisted by Michael Thorpe’s lighting and Susan Stangl’s sound.
However, at times the size of the stage was overwhelmed by the number of cast members confined in that very small space. It might be wise to cut the chorus by a few members to allow a bit more room for those twirls and twists. Happily no one seemed to sustain any injuries during the big production numbers – but at times it was a close call. In any case, 9 TO 5 remains a bouncy, fluffy piece guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you laugh, and encourage you to sing along. It is entertaining and comes along at just the right time as we approach a string of jolly holidays. If you’re still feeling some “Election Blues,” then this is the show for you.
9 TO 5 runs through December 10, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, on 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays (no performances on Thanksgiving weekend 11/25 to 11/27; 12/4 matinee is a private event and not open to the public). The Westchester Playhouse is located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Tickets are $27 ($2 discount for seniors and students) with one Pay-What-You-Want performance on Saturday, 11/12/22 at 2 p.m. For information and reservations, call 310-645-5156, go online, or bo********@ke*************.org">email the box office.
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