Nominated for four 2009 Tony Awards, including Original Score, and receiving a record breaking 15 Drama Desk nominations including Outstanding Musical, 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL is a hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. This is a story of three unlikely friends who conspire to take control of their company and learn there's nothing they can't do -- even in a man's world. Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic, 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL is about teaming up and taking care of business...it's about getting credit and getting even.
So I have been spoiled here in Denver over the past several months with many excellent productions that included quality writing, standout performances, and great technical execution. It pains me to say this - mostly because of my love and admiration for Dolly Parton - but 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL was not the fun musical romp that had every gay bone in my body singing the theme song. One word describes this musical: incongruent. The plot was choppy, the choreography disjointed, the songs all over the place. In fact, the only thing that seemed to be seamless and fluid were the set changes.
The musical numbers had their highs and lows. The show stopping number was "Get Out and Stay Out" and Mamie Parris, as Judy, shone in this number. Another delightful number was "Heart to Hart" that was just laugh out loud funny and offered the character of Roz (Kristine Zborinik) depth and truth. However, "Here for You" featuring Mr. Hart (Joseph Mahowald), the sleazy, chauvinistic boss, fell terribly flat and Doralee's "Backwoods Barbie" which should have been fun and saucy, was simply too difficult to understand.
Dee Noty as Violet and Parris as Judy provided standout performances, developing their roles as fully as they could and supporting their characterizations with skilled vocal performances. American Idol's Diana DeGarmo worked a little too hard to imitate Dolly Parton (the original Doralee) rather than make the larger-than-life character her own and have fun with it. DeGarmo's enunciation was very hard to understand throughout the show, which was disappointing because I enjoyed her stellar pipes and stage presence on American Idol.
When there is a time-tested formula like the original movie version of 9 to 5, it is sometimes best to leave it be. While several components of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL worked well, including Roz being in love with Mr. Hart (absolutely hilarious) and giving Violet a love interest (great character depth), making Mr. Hart even more smarmy than even the original was just too much, and making Margaret even more of an exaggerated boozehound, bordered on cartoonish caricature. Sadly, the production had an amateur feel to it. I'm sure that high schools across the nation will be putting on this production within the next five years. All of my criticisms aside, if you are looking for a campy love fest to Dolly Parton, then go enjoy the show!
9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL, direct from Broadway, based on the hit movie featuring Dolly Parton's original hit title song along with her new Tony Award and Grammy-nominated score, plays the Buell Theatre April 26 through May 8. Call 866-614-4183 for tickets or visit www.buell.theatre.org for information.
Photos by Joan Marcus