9 TO 5
Starring Dee Hoty, Mamie Parris, Joseph Mahowald, Kristine Zbornik and Diana DeGarmo
Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Particia Resnick
9 to 5 was a very successful movie a few decades ago. The story was about a trio of women with a horrible boss. After the ladies befriend each other, they talk of their fantasy to kill the bane of their office horror. The next day, one accidentally gives the boss some coffee filled with rat poison. In trying to explain their mistake, the ladies kidnap the boss. After they realize that no one notices he is gone, they begin to change the office in ways that make the place more productive. The story of female empowerment and equal rights rang the right tone in 1980.
The idea that old movies make new Broadway plays (The Wedding Singer, Spamalot and all the Disney converts) brings another new musical from an old source for the Dallas Summer Musical Series at Fair Park. 9 to 5 The Musical is a winning combination of songs and talent.
The play follows the basic plot of the movie. Via video screen, Dolly Parton introduces us to both the time and the characters. With a rousing ensemble of the song ‘9 to 5’, the stage opens with Judy Bernly (Mamie Parris) being thrown into the world of work, a male dominated place where sexual innuendos live as part of the norm. Judy is recently separated from her husband and has never done anything more than being a wife and mother.
Soon she befriends office manager (Dee Hoty) who has been struggling to make it up the corporate ladder and keeps hitting the glass ceiling. We also meet the boss Franklin Hart Jr. (Joseph Mahowald) and his secretary Doralee Rhodes (Diana DeGarmo). She is the office pariah due to the idea that she is sleeping with the boss. Doralee is a happily married woman with a loving husband. She despised Hart just as much as the rest of the office.
It has to be noted the amazing performance that Diana DeGarmo gives as Doralee. She has perfect comic timing and delivers each and every line with a vicious glee. The biggest laughs come from her performance. She sings “Backwoods Barbie” to rousing applause. She takes on the “Dolly Parton” accent, a hard country tang that just works on every level.
The biggest part of Act One is the trio of fantasies where the women describe how they would get rid of Hart the boss. “The Dance of Dance” becomes a seedy film noir with some great dancing by the ensemble. “Cowgirl’s Revenge” is Doralee in all her country vengeance hilarity. The biggest laughs come with “Potion Notion” and the little puppets that are singing and dancing Disney Style.
The second act is where we finally get some outstanding vocals. The act opens with Violet doing her big number “One of the Boys” where she imagines what life would be like if she were CEO. The turn goes to old style Broadway and in her white suit Dee Hoty commands the stage. It is also the big dance number.
The second act also has “Get Out and Stay Out” the number where Judy asserts her independence from her ex-husband. When Mamie Parris lets her vocal instrument fly, it rattles every part of the Music Hall. Her moment on stage is a show-stopper and almost worth the price of admission. The second act just zips along to the ending that just wraps up all the lose ends. The play ends with Dolly telling the ‘future’ of all our characters. We get another rendition of ‘9 to 5’ with the entire cast taking their bows.
9 to 5 is not a kid’s show in any way. There are swear words and adult situations. But, it certainly was a crowd pleaser. The songs just keep flowing and the pace never lets up. This is a great little work and a nice addition to the Dallas Summer Musical season.