Monday, July 4, 2011

9 to 5: The Musical

So I know you were thinking the TSO season is over, therefore a summer with no blog posts...wrong!  This actually was a bit of a last minute event, but yesterday I saw 9 to 5: The Musical.  Based on the 1980 movie of the same name (well minus the "musical" part) starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, it became a hit and great inspiration for transformation of the workplace to be more hospitable towards women.

The musical version is sensationally enjoyable.  The songs, written by Dolly Parton, are varied, some with that hit of country twang, some with it all out celebrated.  While the touring cast may not have the huge names of the original Broadway version (it would have been awesome to see Allison Janney as Violet), they have excellent voices and collectively quite an impressive resume, which includes a fair amount of spots on soap operas.  No wonder, they're all very pretty people.  Dolly herself makes an appearance via video at the start with some background info and again at the end providing an update on how the lives of the characters turned out in the future.  Part of the beginning intro was a bit campy, perhaps a few too many references that link back to her, but a descent idea to provide some background for those who haven't seen the movie or a refresher for those who did many, many years ago.  The projector didn't work at the end and her image was jerky then disappeared completely while the audio continued and the cast mouthed the words.

Diana as Doralee
Diana DeGarmo is probably the most well known of the cast to the general public, having been runner up way back on the third season of American Idol.  Since then she's been on Broadway in Hairspray and Hair, and is continuing the "hair" theme by sporting a Dolly Parton blonde wig in this show as the Texan Doralee.  At times you'd swear it was Dolly herself who had just spoken, she has her speech down exactly.  Never were there any doubts about her vocal skills, and she delivers her single solo "Backwoods Barbie" with a tenderness that makes her endearing.  It further emphasizes the boss's sleeziness for having spread the untrue rumours of them having an affair.  Oh and check out those heels!  A country girls idea of glam indeed :)

Dee as Violet
In the role of Violet is Dee Hoty, the widowed mother and no nonsense worker who knows it all and keeps getting passed over for promotion because she's a woman.  Continue theme of sleezy boss, adding sexist to the list of transgressions.  No stranger to Broadway, Dee has had 3 Tony nominations and was Donna in Mamma Mia.  She plays the role straight, and shines in the production "One of the Boys" number.

Wendy and Judy (not Mamie)
Mamie as Judy
Rounding out the trio of slighted women is Mamie Parris as Judy, the former housewife new on the job because her soon to be ex-husband Dick left her for his secretary.  Maybe it's the French twist hairstyle or some of the characters traits or her lovely smooth (yet also powerful as demonstrated in "Get Out and Stay Out") voice, but I could totally see her walking into the roll of Mary Poppins.  Must have Disney on the brain, because the long blue nightgown costume for that song could have been right off Wendy in Peter Pan.  Incidentally the song was one of my favourites.  There's something about those women power songs effectively saying "who needs a man?".  One of the best lines of the show was in the final montage regarding Judy's future life.  It explained how she remained single, and became a regular on The View talk show after her best selling book, "Life Without Dick"...pun I'm sure intended. ;)

Hart with Judy and Violet
While it is a women power show, there are some men worth mentioning as well, more for their skills as performers than characters which is especially true for Joseph Mahowald in his role as the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss Franklin Hart, Jr.  His other Broadway credits include the title role in Jekyll & Hyde (oh to hear him sing "This is the Moment"!), and Javert in Les Mis.  His voice was one of those you could listen to all night.

Jesse (
An ensemble member who caught my eye was Jesse JP Johnson (who also played Violet's son).  He was the most enthusiastic dancer of the bunch, not to mention cute, but then he's one of those former soap stars from One Life to Live so it goes with the territory.

There was also the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Tinsworthy who looked incredibly like Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.

What would one of these posts be without mentioning the happenings in the orchestra pit.  In this case "orchestra" is a bit of a misnomer, band is more appropriate.  Taking a peak over the railing at intermission I discovered a very complete percussion section, all handled by one guy, 7 different guitars played by two guys, several keyboards, each hooked up to a laptop which looked to be running something like Garage Band which I'm guessing provided the extra string and woodwind sounds.  There were also two reed players who each had a clarinet and flute, and between them a bass clarinet, bari and tenor sax.  Two trumpets, a trombone, and a bass rounded out the group.

The Women with Dolly Parton (
A little too much down home country charm to be considered a work of theatrical art, but all musicals aren't suppose to be.  Not everything ushers in a new era like Oklahoma, so for a fun evening/afternoon at the theatre, this is good one.

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