Review: '9 to 5: The Musical' an uproarious delight

nancykwellard@gmail.comMay 8, 2014 

In 1980, a film about three working women and their sexist pig of a boss made audiences laugh and produced a lasting hit song for one of its stars, Dolly Parton.

In 2009, "9 to 5" was reimagined as a musical and is now on stage at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island, under the direction and choreography of Casey Colgan.

I saw the show last Friday and, let me tell you, it was energetic -- and it is not for kids.

Like the film, the musical deals with issues that are, sadly, familiar to working women, such as sexist behavior, glass ceilings and the child-care conundrum. Nothing about the production is subtle, and I mean that in a good way.

The cast is headed up by Elizabeth Broadhurst as Violet Newstead -- played by Lily Tomlin in the film; Crystal Mosser as Doralee Rhodes -- played by Dolly Parton; and Stephanie Torns as Judy Bernly -- played by Jane Fonda. Brent Heuseris is the sleazeball boss, Franklin Hart Jr., who was portrayed by Dabney Coleman in the film. Together the arts center cast brings the issues of Consolidated Industries to an entirely new level.

Our trio of women seeks to bring about change in their workplace -- both professionally and personally -- but to my way of thinking, the most entertaining part of "9 to 5" is the element of revenge, that thirst for getting even.

The storyline -- which follows that of the movie -- centers on the "leadership style" of Mr. Hart, who is a hypocrite, liar and bigot. Mr. Hart's tyrant behavior unifies our three women, and they form a friendship despite their differences. Doralee is misunderstood; Violet is overworked and overlooked; and Judy, recently employed because of her divorce, is a fish out of water.

During an evening at Violet's home -- where the three partake in some, ahem, Maui Waui (that's marijuana, friends) -- the women share their revenge fantasies, all aimed at Mr. Hart. Three musical pieces to look forward to are "Dance of Death," "Cowgirls' Revenge" and "Potion Motion."

It's just a short time later that one of these fantasies becomes real, and the three mistakenly believe they have accidentally killed Mr. Hart with rat poision. This cast takes one of the funniest scenes in the movie and makes it even more delightful -- and physical.

When our trio finds that Mr. Hart is very much alive -- and that he plans to have them thrown in jail -- they know it's time for some real action. So they do what any women would do in their place, right? They wrap him up, tie him up and float him up.

The plot thickens as Mr. Hart -- now dangling from the ceiling of his bedroom in a harness -- is AWOL and the three women must run Consolidated.

There are a series of surprises and opportunities for new beginnings at all levels. "One of the Boys,"" Change It" and "Let Love Grow" point out the important differences the three heroic women have put in place at Consolidated. I won't give it all away, but will tell you that the employees are happy, and Consolidated's production figures are up.

This award-winning musical was originally produced on Broadway, and the local cast makes it come alive, adding an impressive dimension to the story.

Be on the look out for Jen Brooks as Roz Keith; Scott Evans as Joe and Kelly Marteney as "Atta girl" Margaret Pomerance.

"9 to 5: The Musical" is at Arts Center through May 25.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry.

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