Audience members left the show with tears in their eyes from the comedic Department of Theatre and Dance production of “9 to 5”. This hilarious musical based on the 1980 film wrapped its way around the hearts of these theater fans and gave them a couple of nights filled with laughter.
Unfortunately, the theater department is struggling after their production specialist, Mike Fernbach, retired. The musical, held in the Redfield Studio Theatre, had no lights, no amplified costumes and no special audio equipment. Somehow, the performers were still unphased by this and the entire musical went off without a hitch.
The opening number “9 to 5” was quite impressive as the main characters and ensemble took the stage with wonderful harmony. Each of them had great vocals, especially the notable Doralee Rhodes, played by Jenna Sterrett. Even with no tailored costumes, the characters still looked very professional and fit right in with the musical’s theme.
After the opening song, Judy Bernly—played by Madi Allen—walked into the scene. Her husband recently left her for another younger woman. When she applies for a new office job, Violet Newstead—played by Kennedy Gaskins—gives her a chance to work, even with no experience.
The second number is performed by Violet, who is a single mother to a young boy named Josh—played by Alexander Mead. Violet sings “Around Here” with the ensemble which is quite an entertaining performance.
The audience is then introduced to Roz Keith—played by Payton Moore—who acts as the managerial leader. Roz is secretly in love with the “big boss” Franklin Hart, Jr. played by Daniel Escovar.
Everyone soon finds out how gross Hart actually is when he hits on Judy as soon as he meets her. “9 to 5” is Escovar’s first production, but he does a great acting job of making the audience view him as a pervy pig who is a nightmare to work with. He was one of the funniest performers on stage.
During his solo number, “Here For You” Hart sexually harrasses Doralee which is quite gross. But the song is entertaining and comedic, even if what he is doing is disgusting.
Right after the number ends, Hart’s wife Missy — played by Elysia Martinez — enters and chats up with her husband, acting ditsy and completely oblivious to his cheating shenanigans.
As the play goes on, we meet the adorable, shy and awkward Joe — played by Coy Romo. Joe has a huge crush on his older co-worker, Violet, and everyone in the office knows it.
Violet’s coworkers Kathy, Maria and Margaret are all gossiping, trying to encourage Violet to take a chance on the poor guy. Kathy is played by Danielle Hunt, Maria is played by Nina Ferreira Forline and Margaret is played by Maddy Regrut.
Unfortunately, Violet still pushes Joe away.
The scene changes again and we’re immediately back to Judy’s storyline. She’s simply minding her own business when her cheating husband, Dick—played by Anson Wapstra Scott—comes out of nowhere to deliver divorce papers. The scene is quite haunting as we get a second deceptive man to criticize in the play.
The play continues and we finally get the third song “I Just Might” performed by Judy, Doralee and Violet. The song had a soothing harmony and the three of them together had phenomenal vocals. They were captivating to watch during their performance.
After the girls in the office discover Doralee is not sleeping with the boss, they graciously invite her into their little clique.
Doralee’s vocals are phenomenal in her solo number “Backwoods Barbie” where she really puts her emotions and heart into the song. In the movie, Doralee is played by Dolly Parton and the casting of Sterrett as Doralee was quite the match to Parton’s performance.
Afterwards, we see just how much Roz loves Hart in her performance with the ensemble that’s hilarious. It’s gross and pervy, but somehow extremely comedic.
The play continues and eventually the three main women find themselves coming together to smoke a joint of marijuana after a stressful argument with Hart.
They then begin to fantasize about how they would kill Hart if they had the chance. Judy performs the song “Dance of Death” where she’s a confident woman who shoots Hart. Doralee performs the number “Cowgirl’s Revenge” where her Southern side comes out, and she works the boss over in her changed cowgirl outfit.
Finally, Violet ends their death scenes with her “Potion Notion” song, where she “accidentally” poisons Hart and never gets caught.
And then somehow, Violet actually ends up poisoning Hart with rat poison. When he finds out, the three women whisk him away and tie him up to keep him from telling anyone what Violet did.
Then all of them perform “Joy to the Girls” and “Shine Like the Sun” based on their increasing happiness once Hart dies in all their dreams.
The final songs of Act One were quite hilarious and the audience members were doubled-over in laughter watching the ensemble and the main characters perform these awesome finale pieces.
The actors had a brief 15-minute intermission before it picked up right where they left off. The introduction song is “Entr’acte” which is played beautifully by the orchestra to lead the characters back in.
As Act Two begins, the audience starts to see more of the “girl boss” sides to each of the main characters and Violet starts to become a leader in the office with Hart now gone.
During her song “One of the Boys,” that she performs with the boys in the play, Violet really starts feeling herself. Throughout the performance, she dreams of being considered as the CEO in the “boy’s club.” During the song all of the performers even go in and out of the audience to sing and be more engaged. The whole scene was fun and exciting.
Throughout the whole performance and even after, Joe obviously stares longingly at Violet, completely mesmerized with the power she holds throughout the play.
When Joe becomes suspicious of Hart being gone and Violet running the show, she tells him the truth about Hart being tied up.
He’s surprisingly very supportive, but that’s just who Joe’s character is. Throughout the whole play, it’s like watching a romantic comedy play out between the two. Their chemistry was obvious and adorable and their duet together “Let Love Grow” was sweet with great vocals. The whole scene was very swoon-worthy.
Before this duet though, Roz is sent away to France by Violet to keep her off the scent of Hart being missing. She performs the song “5 to 9” comedically as she says goodbye to the 9 to 5 life she’ll miss alongside Hart. Moore’s vocals in this solo were incredible.
Then the three women take the scene again to perform “Change It” once Roz is gone and they finally can run the whole office by themselves.
Towards the end of the play, Judy performs “Get Out and Stay Out”, where she finally stands up to her ex-husband, almost getting caught with Hart being tied up.
However, Hart still finds a way to escape and meets the women in the office, holding them at gunpoint. Joe heroically steps in front of Violet, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the viewers.
Before Hart can do anything though, the chair of the board Tinsworthy—played by Anson Wapstra Scott—enters the room. He congratulates Hart on all the hard work he’s done and plans to send him to Bolivia to do great work there. Violet then takes over as CEO for the company here. Somehow, everything ends up perfectly tied up as all of the performers in the play come out to sing and dance to the “Finale” number.
To tie the play up even more, the audience also gets to hear about the futures of the characters and where they ended up. Of course, it was a happy end for the good characters and a rough ending for the villains in the play.
On the opening night, the actors earned a standing ovation for their hilarious and unhinged performance. It wouldn’t be surprising if they earned a standing ovation on every performance night that followed—the musical was just that good.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.