It’s been over 40 years since Dolly Parton made her film debut in 9 to 5 and the title tune topped the charts. The film and song (which garnered Parton an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song) became markers in the struggle for parity in the workplace for women. Thank goodness it was achieved decades ago.
Parton herself collaborated with one of the original screenwriters to come up with 9 to 5, the Musical. The pretty straightforward musical adaptation of the film runs at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse through June 26.
The book of the show closely follows the film script as three disparate office workers join together to take on their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss. The too-frequently-overlooked-for-promotion Violet Newstead (Daniela Innocenti Beem) joins forces with the newly-employed Judy Bernly (Julianne Bradbury) and the unfairly maligned secretary-to-the-president Doralee Rhodes (Anne Warren Clark) to bring some equity to the offices of Consolidated Industries and some payback to its loathsome leader Franklin Hart (Mark Bradbury).
There are minor differences between the film and the stage show, but the basics are all there plus about a dozen more tunes by Parton including “Backwoods Barbie”.
Director Carl Jordan has cast the show well. Each of the principals brings a strong voice and clear characterization to the stage. Violet is a good role for Beem, and Bradbury really impresses with her vocals as Judy. Clark has the difficult task of not being too Dolly Parton-ish and succeeds, big hair and all. Mark Bradbury is effectively sleazy as Hart, and Jen Boynton matches well with him as the office busybody.
There’s a large ensemble doing good work in multiple supporting roles and the bulk of the dancing. They also spend a good deal of time moving set pieces around. This show has a lot of moving parts and credit to the ensemble (and stage crew) for keeping the pace up. Credit also to set designer Eric Broadwater for the best-looking set I’ve seen at 6th Street in a while. Projections by Chris Schloemp complement the sense of place.
9 to 5 is the type of show that delivers exactly what you expect it to deliver (and that includes a couple of appearances by Dolly herself.)
‘9 to 5, the Musical’ runs through June 26 in the GK Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth Street, Santa Rosa. Thurs-Sat., 7:30pm; Sat-Sun, 2pm. $26–$45. Proof of vaccination and masking are required to attend. 707.523.4185. 6thstreeetplayhouse.com
Photos by Eric Chazankin
This review appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun.