|Doralee Rhodes (Tricia Paoluccio) gives some payback to Franklin Hart
Jr. (Paul Schoeffler),
with help from co-workers, in “9 to 5 The Musical,”
produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion through July 30.
Kevin Graft/Courtesy photo
Audiences are going to love the Music Circus’s new production of the Dolly Parton/Patricia Resnick musical, “9 to 5, the Musical.” Based on the popular 1980 movie, featuring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, the story involves sexual harassment in the workplace of the 1970s, and how three women manage to get revenge on their boss.
This is a splashy, wonderfully choreographed (by Mara Newbery Greer) bit of fluff, directed by Glenn Casale. All the plot points are there, the fun is there, but the intensity and heart of the movie are not. Except for the title song, there are no songs you will remember (and with the continuing ear-shattering level of Music Circus sound, you probably will miss a lot of the lyrics). But that’s all irrelevant to the fun the opening night audience was having.
Judy Bernly (Anne Brummel) is a newly divorced woman with no office skills and no self-esteem who joins the staff of the company. She is taken under the wing of Violet Newstead (Vicki Lewis), who has worked for the company for years and is hoping to be given a promotion.
Doralee Rhodes (Tricia Paoluccio, the Dolly Parton role) is accepted to be the office slut and everyone thinks she is having an affair with the boss, Franklin Hart Jr. (Paul Schoeffler).
“We don’t like her,” Violet tells Judy, though Doralee is actually happily married and is constantly fighting the advances of her boss in order to keep her job.
The production makes wonderful use of the Music Circus movable stage and all those various platform levels and the tech crew does yeoman duty running sets in and out of the stage while many scenes take place in the aisles.
The show belongs to the women. Lewis is a force of nature, a bold, brassy, under-appreciated Violet who is trying to raise a teenager as a single mother and convinced that if she works hard enough, she can break through the glass ceiling. When the coveted position is given, instead, to a young man she herself trained, hell hath no fury like this woman scorned.
Paoluccio is a wonderful Doralee, making the role her own, while still echoing Parton. Her “Backwoods Barbie” was wonderful.
Brummel, in the least notable role of Bernly, has the show-stopping number “Get Out and Stay Out,” which is reminiscent of a song Elphaba sings in “Wicked.” That’s interesting because the actress has played that role all over the country in touring shows.
Kristine Zbornik has the small role of frumpy Roz, Hart’s sycophantic assistant, who has a secret crush on her boss and whose song “Heart to Hart” brings down the house.
When Violet accidentally puts rat poison in Hart’s coffee, the girls get the idea of kidnapping him and holding him hostage in his own home while his wife is on vacation to prevent him from reporting Violet to the police.
While Hart is tied up, the girls take over running the office, reversing his cruel policies, and turning the office into a pleasant place to work. At the same time, a little research uncovers a double set of books showing Hart has been stealing from the company for years.
Parton herself makes an appearance. When this show played the Broadway series in the Community Center, a huge projection on the back of the stage gave Parton the opportunity to introduce and end the show. The same technique is used here, to lesser effect.
While the video shows Parton turning to her left or right to indicate a character, in the round, often she is turning to the opposite of where the character really is. Again, the enhanced audio made her comments difficult to understand.
“9 to 5″ had a disappointing run on Broadway, but it has more than made up for it in the popularity of productions around the country, and the Music Circus Production is no exception.