9 to 5: The Musical

I went to see Dolly Parton’s new musical, “9 to 5”, at its world premier here in Los Angeles last night. Of course, I confess to being a huge fan of Dolly and her music, so it was hard not to like the show. But my expectations, which were fairly low, were shattered with this strong cast, excellent staging, and well written lyrics. If this is how Dolly writes musicals, then she has found a new calling. With the exception of a song or two, it was near perfect.

The show is based on the film “9 to 5” in which some office secretaries in the 1980s conspire to expose their sexist boss who demeans and harasses them. Though it was a comedy, the film shed light on the male dominated corporate offices of that era. I haven’t seen the film in twenty years, but I was surprised how relevant the story still seems even in our more equitable society. Female workers still are paid only 75 percent of what male workers are paid for the same job, and sexist comments are still made about women in leadership as we have seen in the current presidential race. The musical reminds us how much progress we have made, but also how much the issues are still the same.

The musical may be even more hilarious than the film, though families will find that some of the content is unfit for children. The musical stars Allison Janney, one of my all time favorite actresses, famous for her role as “CJ” on “West Wing” and a recent performance as the mother in “Juno”. Her performance is strong in “9 to 5” though she is the weakest of the three vocally. The musical also stars Stephanie Block and Megan Hilty, both from the original cast of “Wicked”. Their vocal performances were outstanding.

One of the things that most surprised me was the range of Dolly’s musical styles and her writing. Only a small portion of the music is country, though Dolly’s unique wit and personality are evident everywhere throughout the show.

I recommend “9 to 5” for a fun evening of laughs. It probably won’t win a lot of Tony Awards, and it isn’t a show for those looking for the substance of “Wicked” or “Les Mis”. It is charming and funny … just like its writer. Good job, Miss Dolly!

One Response to “9 to 5: The Musical”
  1. Brett says:

    Because I want to make it political, when this post has nothing to do with politics:http://hugoschwyzer.net/2008/09/15/backwoods-barbie-and-white-rural-feminism-of-dolly-parton-9-to-5-and-sarah-palin/And yes, I went in with VERY low expectations…but wow, great show! “Get out, Stay out” – amazing.

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