by Terrance Mc Arthur
On stage now at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, the Good Company Players bring us 9 to 5 The Musical, based on the 1980 Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman film about workers turning the tables on a horrible boss. The movie was directed by Colin Higgins (who wrote Harold and Maude) from his screenplay and Patricia Resnick’s story. Resnick adapted the script for the stage, and Parton wrote new songs to go along with her title tune from the film.
I remember the movie 9 to 5, and I thought everybody else did. After all, it made over a hundred million dollars as the second-biggest film of 1980…but that was 35 years ago, and so I offer a short summary, substituting the GCP cast names for the movie stars.
Violet (Alison Allwine) is the office manager who is passed over for management promotions because she is a woman. Doralee (Abigail Nolte) is the curvaceous secretary to the company president, Franklin Hart (Teddy Maldonado). Everybody thinks she is having an affair with him because the lying scum keeps saying that he is, but she won’t. Judy (Emily Pessano) is new to the workplace after being dumped after years of faithful marriage. Discovering the truth of Frank’s non-existent affair, the three women bond over their mistreatment and some marijuana, sharing their revenge fantasies. After accidentally acting out one of them, they kidnap their boss, keep him captive, and start making changes in the company culture.
It’s a light, silly, fluffy story wrapped in social consciousness, but the issues it raises are still valid. The glass ceiling, gender pay equity, sexual harassment, and work environment are still societal problems. Some of the jokes hit too close to the bone for laughter in parts of the audience.
Nolte is a towering talent. She was powerful as Nancy in Oliver!, and seriously funny as the head store elf in A Christmas Story. Here, as a naïve woman who looks for the best in people, she sidles up to Parton’s songs and latches on to them with a love lock. She’s funny, she’s sexy, and she’s tall.
Allwine is all savvy business as the single mother who really runs the office. She couples a world-weary “it’ll never change” attitude with “it’s gotta change” hope. Her scenes with Joe (Shawn Williams), a younger employee who doesn’t see an age difference as an impediment to love, are sweet. Williams is doing a great job with his grown-up roles, after all those years of training with the Junior Company.
Pessano triumphs over all, from a deliberately hideous first-day-on-the-job outfit to an ex (Jesse McCoy) who she doesn’t need to need any more. The character exemplifies the self-transformed woman who comes to realize her own strengths and possibilities.
Sharayah Veith is strong as the sycophantic snitch who secretly longs for the boss in the funniest ways and in an eye-straining costume. Camille Gaston, an ever-dependable performer, is a one-liner machine as a tipsy co-worker whose “cup of ambition” is measured in proof. Nathan Fasching is winning as Allwine’s skateboarding son, and he lends chorus support. Greg Ruud gets a nice turn as the chairman of the board who might be aware of more than he’s given credit for knowing. By the way, GCP has managed to bring Dolly Parton herself onto the stage by several taped sequences, and she’s still Dolly.
Director Julie Lucido and choreographer Kaye Migaki get everything moving at high speed, and David Pierce’s set evokes the stultifyingly sterile office cubicles of the past. Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed makes office-dress-code a fashion statement. The Junior Company salutes songs about numbers from “One Singular Sensation” to ”I Would Walk 500 Miles.”
It’s a fun show that will bring back fond memories of the film 9 to 5 plays through March 13 at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre, 1226 N Wishon Ave. For more information, call (559) 266-9494 or go to gcplayers.com. You can also keep up with their shows on KRL’s GCP event page.
WARNING: Minor Rant Alert.
These days, Broadway musicals haven’t got an original bone in their bodies. A Christmas Story, Legally Blond, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Shrek, Dogfight, Spamalot (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), and The Producers: all of them based on movies. In March, the Good Company Players will present Disney’s The Little Mermaid. (this isn’t to say that many of them aren’t fun musicals with great music–just that the stories are far from original)
END: Minor Rant.
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