Recommended There once was a hit movie, “9 to 5” that brought fame to Dolly Parton , far greater than that of her “Country” music. The comedy featured Ms.Parton along with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as three female workers in a “man’s world” of big business, during the late 1970’s. The book by Patricia Resnick ( who was involved in the movie) and the music and lyrics ( by Ms. Parton) is a story that deals with friendship and of getting even. The three women, Violet ( a powerful performance by Dee Hoty) a widw raising a teen-age son, who has worked hard but is always passed over for the promotions; Doralee, ( deftly handled by Diana DeGarmo, who comes about as close to being a clone of Ms. Parton as I can imagine, yet her acting skills were far more promising) and the naive Judy ( charmingly played by Mamie Parris) who is in the middle of a bad divorce and is new to the work force. These three ladies bond, despite their varied backgrounds and become best friends as they kidnap their boss, Franklin Hart Jr. ( a nice portrayal by Joseph Mahowald, but it is almost impossible to recreate a role that was originated by Dabney Coleman, one of the best) who mistreats everyone and in particular women who he sees as sex objects over good employees.
While under their control, they take over the company, changing rules and working conditions, bringing happiness to the work force and as it turns out growing the business. In the end, the women are rewarded for their changing the mentality of the company and growing the profits and Hart gets moved out of the country to another branch with Violet becoming CEO. While the music fits the story, most of it is not very memorable, I will say that the opening production , the title song” 9 to 5″ is a marvelous piece of work by director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun, who truly uses his small cast to perfection, The ensemble members play many roles with swift costume changes and also are responsible for set changes as well. There are some clever uses of cubicles with changeable panels designed by Kenneth Foy. The show has lots of glitz and a talented cast which allows for a good theatrical experience. Two of the secondary female roles , Roz ( a dynamic and hysterical Kristine Zbornik) and Margaret ( great comic work by Jane Blass, who steals every scene she is in, proving there are no small parts and a good actor can make even one line a memory for the audience) and a strong ensemble make the show move through an over two hour production.Ms Parton is IN the show, but by vidoe projection as she helps narrate and introduce us to the main characters, and then again, at the end, she tells us what became of each.
Opening night audiences ( in reality the press night was the second night of the short run) were delighted as Governor Quinn took the stage prior to the curtain to proclaim today Dolly Parton Day and then she came out to say hello, on her birthday. Before she left the stage, our Chicago audience truly made her day by joining together to sing “Happy Birthday” to her and I think I saw a tear fall from her eye. She became a part of our audience and watched the show with us adding to the specialness of the day.
“9 to 5, the Musical” will continue here in Chicago at The Bank Of America Theatre through January 30th with performances as follows:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m.
Matinees are Wednesdays, Saturdyas and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Closing day, January 30th- no evening performance
Tickets range from $32 to $95 ( fairly affordable for a big road show) and can be purchased at any of the Broadway in Chicago box offices, at the Broadway In Chicago kiosk at Water Tower Place, by phone at The Broadway In Chicago Ticketline 1-800-775-200, all Ticketmaster retail locations and Online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The Bank Of America Theatre is located at 18 West Monroe, easy to get to by public transportation and if you plan to make a night of it, the famous Italian Village with three dining areas is just west of the theater and they offer valet parking ( just $10)