Theater Review: 9 to 5
Performed by Dallas Summer Musicals
Music Hall at Fair Park
© The Flash List | May 19, 2011
Behind a semi-sheer curtain featuring images of Jimmy Carter, the Village People, Donna Summer, the Muppets, Charlie’s Angels, and even a reference to Pet Rock, lies Consolidated Industries where three female secretaries fight from 9 to 5 each workday for every inch of ground they take in this 1979 corporate man’s world.
Direct from Broadway and based on the hit movie, this new musical comedy features the original hit title song by the queen of country music Dolly Parton along with her new Tony-nominated and Grammy-nominated score. Dolly herself sets the stage (via video with opening narrations and closing comments) as company veteran Violet (three time Tony nominated Dee Hoty) tries to break into the executive “Boys Club” despite being repeatedly passed over for promotions. She takes under her wing the new girl Judy (Mamie Parris) after Judy’s husband Dick (Wayne Schroder) dumps her for his younger secretary. A quintessential triple threat entertainer in this role, Parris (a native Texan who has performed on Broadway and toured with country music icon Kenny Rogers) was flawless and wowed the crowd with "Get Out and Stay Out," which she belted out with dynamic star quality.
Diana DeGarmo (runner up on the third season of “American Idol”) was just darlin’ as the busty blonde Doralee Rhodes, a character made famous by Dolly herself. Is Diana a dead ringer for Dolly? Of course not. But Good Lord, who is? However, if you reckon she might be a mighty close alternative for the original, you’d be darn tootin’. You can feel the essence, see the mannerisms, and hear the voice of Dolly all over DeGarmo’s performance, especially in her song “Backwoods Barbie”.
Doralee’s boss is Franklin Hart, Jr. (Joseph Mahowald) the Scotch drinking, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" whose politically incorrect antics in the office just beg for a sexual harassment lawsuit. And when the married Hart begins spreading lies that Doralee is his mistress … well, that petite, southern, pistol packing cutie goes on a comical tirade that sends the audience into stitches.
Fed up with the constant mistreatment, the three women head to Violet’s house (along with a fourth companion, ‘Mary Jane’) and fantasize about ousting (and offing) their obnoxious boss. But the next day, when Violet inadvertently slips strychnine rat poison into Hart’s coffee, an irreverent series of slapstick misadventures ensue. (See full plot synopsis.)
The era specific costumes (by five time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long) for this show are spot on - plaid tweed, oversized flowy pleated skirts, silky neck scarves, a flowery little house robe like our mother used to wear, retro luggage, … and was that a Members Only jacket we saw?
A colorful array of lighting (designed by Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winner Ken Billington) accented a continually transforming stage (scenic design by Kenneth Foy) set with metal desks, rotating cubes, ‘drop in’ backdrops, and props that easily glided on and off stage along with an ensemble of actor/dancers. ‘Cause and effect’ type stage blocking consisted of a complex series of quick steps and movements (directed and choreographed by Tony nominated Jeff Calhoun) that had cast members crossing paths to staple papers, hand off file folders to one another, pass the phone cord, and much more creating an whimsical effect like a giant elaborate game of Mousetrap.
You can see 9 to 5 at the Music Hall at Fair Park through Sunday, May 29, 2011. Also, Stomp opens on June 7, and don’t miss Monty Python’s SPAMALOT which runs Tuesday, June 14 - Sunday, June 26, 2011.