9 to 5 : An Orpheus production of a musical that is sadly passé.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: Valleywind Productions

9 to 5, The Musical is a reminder of the social restrictions of a past era, but sadly, much about this musical, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, is passé too.

In its first incarnation as a 1980 movie starring Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, it worked better than it does as a stage show full of short sequences and abrupt scene changes that recall the style of film. Little wonder that the recycled musical had only a very short run on Broadway in 2009.

While Parton’s autobiographical Backwoods Barbie and the title song are catchy, most of the rest of the music fades from memory as quickly as does the weak book by Resnick (who also wrote the movie screenplay).

A tale of the revenge that three women (girls in 1970s male parlance) with little in common except dislike of their situation take on their sexist monster of a boss falls flat much of the time. An awkward and distasteful pot-smoking sequence intended to explain the instant bonding of this unlikely sisterhood is particularly difficult to take.

The Orpheus production, directed by Judy Follett, with musical direction by Murray Doggett and choreography by Deb Miller-Smith, works hard to overcome the weakness of the material with the support of an efficient set design by Grace Solman and the enthusiasm of a well-chosen cast.

Christa Cullain is strong and bubbly as the Dolly Parton lookalike, Doralee. Beki Lantos handles the role of office manager Violet with authority, though occasional poor enunciation sometimes makes her difficult to hear. And Melinda Hudson has fun as the recently divorced Judy, offering a powerful, though sometimes harsh-sounding rendering of Get Out & Stay Out, when shunting her ex out of the door. Meanwhile, Christine Moran, the only woman in the office enamoured of the boss, delivers a very amusing version of Heart to Hart, giving further evidence that performances frequently outstrip the material .

As Franklin Hart, the villain of the piece, Brennan Richardson could leer even more and be even more unpleasant to the female staff to provide a greater contrast to good guy, Bob (Doug Thicke).

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton

Book by Patricia Resnick

Orpheus Musical Theatre Society


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