9 to 5 the Musical

 

Music and Lyrics by Dolly Partonmarriott theatre

Book by Patricia Resnick

Based on the 20th Century Fox Picture

Directed by David H. Bell

At Marriott Theatre

          Unsatisfying Journey from Screen to Stag

Skill and professionalism mark all Marriot Theatre productions.  However, that does not mean that their every choice will be a stellar success.   

          Even fine timing, superior voices and delightful, sometimes show-stopping choreography in their production of 9 to 5 the Musical, cannot create a work that matches its cinematic inspiration.

marriott theatre

          The film was an amazing success in 1980, cited as the 20th highest grossing comedy of all time.  Since then, the American Film Institute named it in the list of 100 funniest movies. This enormous success built an expectation in theatergoers, which, ultimately turned out to be disappointing.

          The musical version is funny, but not consistently funny enough. The plot appears fragmented, uneven and sometimes clunky, painted with strokes so broad that they obscure the  cleverness of the original.  Unfortunately, the exaggerated, two-dimensional characters fail to come to life — or seem worth caring about. A shining exception is the villain, heartless Franklin Hart, Jr. played with great verve by James Moye as a callous, lecherous boss.

marriott theatre

          Kelli Cramer, Alexandra Palkovic and Susan Moniz, as the victimized office trio — Violet, Doralee, and Judy (in film roles originated by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda) — suffer at the hands of the chauvinist Hart. In a delightful sequence — perhaps the best of the evening — they dream of and enact three versions of revenge with Dance of Death, Cowgirls Revenge and Potion Notion.

           Dolly Parton haunts the show. Her disembodied voice opens by welcoming people to the theater, and she is reincarnated (boobs and all) in Palkovic’s performance. Parton’s Grammy Award winning song, 9 to 5 is still clearly the best number.

          Act I closes with a cliffhanger. Revenge moves from theoretical to actual when the three-long suffering secretaries take matters into their own hands and kidnap and imprison Hart. Act II follows the aftermath –including how office life at Consolidated Industries improves under the new female regime — and ends with the ultimate solution.

          While the original may not be noted for subtlety, the ensuing musical is brassy and blatant; feminist revenge deteriorates to slapstick.  On the other hand, there is certainly an audience for overt humor. On opening night, the theatergoers rose for a standing ovation. (Perhaps they’d never seen the film). It may be unfair to compare film and play, no matter how tempting.  

          How does the musical stand on its own? It was light, frothy, and mindless, a bit outdated, with a few catchy tunes and neat dance numbers, and offering some pertinent pokes at gender inequality in the marketplace.

 Somewhat recommended.

 Beverly Friend, Ph.D.

Member ATC

 Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200, www.MariottTheatre.com, tickets $40-$48. 1 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Running time two hours and fifteen minutes, including intermission.  

 


 

          Unsatisfying Journey from Screen to Stage

 

 

          Skill and professionalism mark all Marriot Theatre productions.  However, that does not mean that their every choice will be a stellar success.   

          Even fine timing, superior voices and delightful, sometimes show-stopping choreography in their production of 9 to 5 the Musical, cannot create a work that matches its cinematic inspiration.

          The film was an amazing success in 1980, cited as the 20th highest grossing comedy of all time.  Since then, the American Film Institute named it in the list of 100 funniest movies. This enormous success built an expectation in theatergoers, which, ultimately turned out to be disappointing.

          The musical version is funny, but not consistently funny enough. The plot appears fragmented, uneven and sometimes clunky, painted with strokes so broad that they obscure the  cleverness of the original.  Unfortunately, the exaggerated, two-dimensional characters fail to come to life — or seem worth caring about. A shining exception is the villain, heartless Franklin Hart, Jr. played with great verve by James Moye as a callous, lecherous boss.

          Kelli Cramer, Alexandra Palkovic and Susan Moniz, as the victimized office trio — Violet, Doralee, and Judy (in film roles originated by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda) — suffer at the hands of the chauvinist Hart. In a delightful sequence — perhaps the best of the evening — they dream of and enact three versions of revenge with Dance of Death, Cowgirls Revenge and Potion Notion.

           Dolly Parton haunts the show. Her disembodied voice opens by welcoming people to the theater, and she is reincarnated (boobs and all) in Palkovic’s performance. Parton’s Grammy Award winning song, 9 to 5 is still clearly the best number.

          Act I closes with a cliffhanger. Revenge moves from theoretical to actual when the three-long suffering secretaries take matters into their own hands and kidnap and imprison Hart. Act II follows the aftermath –including how office life at Consolidated Industries improves under the new female regime — and ends with the ultimate solution.

          While the original may not be noted for subtlety, the ensuing musical is brassy and blatant; feminist revenge deteriorates to slapstick.  On the other hand, there is certainly an audience for overt humor. On opening night, the theatergoers rose for a standing ovation. (Perhaps they’d never seen the film). It may be unfair to compare film and play, no matter how tempting.  

          How does the musical stand on its own? It was light, frothy, and mindless, a bit outdated, with a few catchy tunes and neat dance numbers, and offering some pertinent pokes at gender inequality in the marketplace.

 

Somewhat recommended.

 

Beverly Friend, Ph.D.

Member ATC

 

Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200, www.MariottTheatre.com, tickets $40-$48. 1 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Running time two hours and fifteen minutes, including intermission.  

 

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