The Arlington Players 9 to 5, the MusicalBy Michael Clark • Apr 11th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
The Arlington Players: (Info) (Web)
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through April 20th
2:20 with one intermission
$23/$20 Juniors and Seniors
Reviewed April 5th, 2013
9 to 5, the Musical is based on the 1980 movie. A “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss” is making his employees’ lives intolerable. When a little fantasy revenge dream accidentally comes true, three women are linked together in a race to fix their office before the boss can call the police.
The three main characters, Violet Newstead (Elizabeth Yates), Doralee Rhodes (Jennifer Lambert) and Judy Bernly (Allison Block) were a wonderful trio with great chemistry. They each had very different styles, from Violet’s efficiency to Doralee’s friendliness to Judy’s nervousness. At Judy’s introduction, Allison Block appeared so nervous it appeared to be stage fright. But after the action continued it was obvious she was performing as newly divorced Judy exceptionally well. Their boss, Franklin Hart (Russell Kopp) was thoroughly unlikable, and balanced sliminess with charm.
Director and Choreographer John K. Monnett created a fun show. “9 to 5,” the opening dance number, set the tone for the rest of the entertaining production. The fantasy sequences in the first act were very well done, with a nice surprise of the way Violet’s woodland creatures were handled. The character to watch is the transformation of Judy, growing from a nervous pipsqueak to a strong, secure woman. John-Michael d’Haviland’s music was pleasurable throughout, from the twang of Doralee’s country singing, to the sorrow of Roz (Annie Ermlick) singing the sorrowful “5 to 9.”
Amanda Acker’s set was admirable, allowing for the flexibility of multiple locations requiring rapid scene changes. The stage crew under the direction of stage manager Terri Carnahan executed the changes quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of distraction. The one scene I remember from the movie was the boss, Franklin Hart, being hooked to a garage door opener and hoisted to the ceiling whenever he threatened the ladies. This effect was done very well, congrats to the crew and Russell Kopp. Laura Fontaine’s costumes were period appropriate, definite flashbacks to the 1970s.
There are a few spots in the script that I don’t think will hold up well over time. The little asides and anachronisms were funny, but in twenty years the references may not be as obvious. And that’s the worst thing I can say about this production, a nitpick with the script. The Arlington Players’ DC area première of 9 to 5, the Musical is a fun show, with serious underpinnings, but all in all, it’s a good time at the theater.
Let’s think back on 1979 — the time when our story tonight takes place — a gallon of gas ran about 68 cents, shag rugs, pet rocks and disco were the hottest thing around. Sony introduced the first walkman and the board game Trivial Pursuit was launched. “Kramer vs. Kramer” topped the box office (and won the Oscar) and pop music was in transition from disco to new wave as Gloria Gaynor sang of self-empowerment with “ I Will Survive” but the Knack’s ode to young lust “My Sharona” topped the charts for the year.
More seriously, there were historic milestones that had significant international impact for the next several decades: Margaret Thatcher being elected Prime Minister in the United Kingdom. Pope John Paul II visiting his native Poland as the first pope to cross behind the Iron Curtain, the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The Dow closed the year at 838, and the Fed interest rate hovered around 15%-both statistics simultaneously quaint and terrifying to us today.
1979 also saw the first deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment. Originally drafted in 1923, this constitutional amendment designed to guarantee equal rights for women was passed by congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification with a seven year deadline. Although the decline was extended to 1982 (amid controversy), it ultimately was not ratified and and debate continues today, as it was reintroduced in the current senate only last month.
Then there is “9 to 5.” Originally a movie starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, it was the story of three women who become friends as they endure sexism in the workplace and confront their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot” of a boss (played by Dabney Coleman). Their story still resonated thirty years later when it arrived on Broadway (with Allison Janney, Megan Hilty, Stephanie J. Block and Marc Kudisch) as the screen-to-screen stage musical 9 to 5: the Musical, featuring a score written by Dolly Parton herself (her first.) Parton’s gift for storytelling as a strong leader lends itself to musical theater, and she has created endearing songs that express each character’s emotions simply and honestly and are relatable to anyone who has felt the need to take charge of her (or his) own life to make things better.
So whether you want to interpret this how as feminist manifesto, self-empowerment treatise, or escapist fantasy is up to you (I think it blends all three). And just as 1979 was filled with culturally fond memories and some rather significant events, so too today we live in a time of serious matters and silly diversions. So perhaps simply enjoying the fantasy of sticking it to the man in charge (and who hasn’t had his thought at one time or another) is enough for the evening. Please sit back and enjoy the ride!
John K. Monett, Director and Choreographer
- Violet Newstead: Elizabeth Yates
- Doralee Rhodes: Jennifer Lambert
- Judy Bernly: Allison Block
- Franklin Hart, Jr.: Russell Kopp
- Roz Keith: Annie Ermlick
- Joe: Derek Pickens
- Josh Newstead: Sean Cantor
- Dwayne Rhodes: Mike Usowski
- Kathy: Marla McClure
- Margaret Pommerence: Barbara Porter
- Maria Delgado: Sally Kiernan
- Missy Hart: Jean Koppen
- Bob Enright: Sam Nystrom
- Dick Bernly: Mark Hildago
- Detective: Sidney Davis
- Doctor: Max Aguilar
- Candy Striper: Evie Korovesis
- Russell Tinsworthy: Ronald Boykin
- New Employee: Laurie Newton
- Ensemble: Max Aguilar, Karen Batra, Ronald Boykin, Sean Cantor, Sidney Davis, Mark Hildago, Sally Kiernan, jean Koppen, Evie Korovesis, Justin Latus, Marla McClure, P.J. Mitchell, Laurie Newton, Sam Nystrom, Barbara Porter, Kedren Spencer, K.C. Tydgat, Mike Usowski
- Vocal Ensemble: Lauren Laird, Atena Moore, Robert Summer, Joelle Thomas
- Conductor: John-Michael d’Haviland
- Reeds: Gwyn Jones, Dana Gardner, Mila Weiss*
- Trumpet: Paul Weiss, Mark Allred
- Trombone: Ryan Shofnos, Rick Schulz*
- Guitars: Eric Oganesoff, Bob Weaver
- Bass: Randy Dahlberg
- Percussion: Joel Frisch
- Drums: jim Hofmann
- Keyboard/Piano: Sarah Elliott, Alan Margolis
- * alternate performers on selected dates
- Producer: Irene Molnar
- Director & Choreographer: John K. Monett
- Music Director: John-Michael d’Haviland
- Stage Manager: Terri Carnahan
- Conductor: John-Michael d’Haviland
- Technical Director: Christopher Smith
- Set Design: Amanda Acker
- Set Painting: Amanda Acker
- Master Carpenter: TJ Donahue
- Set Dressing Design: Joyce Frank
- Lighting Design: Ryan Desmond
- Sound Design: Keith Bell
- Costume Design: Laura Fontaine
- Make Up Design: Larissa Norris
- Wig & Hair Design: irene Molnar
- Assistant Stage Managers: Meghann K. Peterlin, Stephen Yates
- Assistant to the choreographer: Kathy Oh
- Associate Sound Designers: Chris Kagy, Drew Moberely
- Set Construction Crew: Amand Acker, Scott Drew, Peter Kinkel, Richard Garey, Erica Lee, William Kolodrubetz, Heng Lim, Arthur Pleasants, Todd Shiba, Christopher Smith, Rachel Wolkowitz
- Charge Painters: Beth Ceyak, Joyce Frank, Kevin Lane, irene Molnar, Mika Rautianan, Charles Reed, Karen Toth, Rachel Wolkowitz
- Costume/Wardrobe: Holly Strickland, Jessica L. Randazzo
- Light Board Operator: Joni Hughes
- Spot Light Operators: Billy Cover, Ashley Johnson, Adrian Steele, Lou Timmons
- Flyrail: Amanda Acker, T.J. Donahue, Michael Pakonen
- FOY Operators: Steve Lada, Steven Yates
- Stage Crew: Amanda Acker, Scott Drew, Nolan Hughes, Steve Lada, Katie Lewis, Rachel Wolkowitz
- Auditions: Lauren Laird, Judy Lewis, Katie Lewis, Adrian Steele, Steven Yates
- Audition Pianist: Elisa Rosman, Alan Margolis
- Audition Dance Instructor: Cathy Oh
- Photography: Peter Hill
- Program: Nikki Hoffpauir
- Logo Design: James Villarrubia
- Box Office: Karinn Cologne, Barbara Esquibel, Dina Green, Nikki Hoffpauir
- Opening Night Party: Terri Carnahan
Disclaimer: The Arlington Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. TAP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.
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