Saturday, September 20, 2008

Review - 9 to 5: The Musical


9 to 5: The Musical
book by Patricia Resnick/ music & lyrics by
Dolly Parton
Joe Mantello

Ahmanson Theatre
through October 19

Tempus fugit! It was 1980 when 9 to 5, the megahit film that starred Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin graced the big screen. A comic gem, due to a great script from Patricia Resnick, it put female corporate workers in the center spotlight; they have not, unfortunately, gained total equality, but the film surely tread waters with the imaginative and brazen way it thrust revenge upon the male chauvinist boss. It had hysterically funny performances from its 3 stars, in tandem with Dabney Coleman's indelible portrait of the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical..." heartless Hart.
The new show 9 to 5: The Musical opened at the Ahmanson this weekend - with a theatre already booked in New York for April, 2009 - and it, too, has the spunk, guts and pizazz to be a surefire winner. Starring Allison Janney, Megan Hilty and Stephanie J. Block - who become every bit as loveable as the film's original galpals - the show still boasts of the terrific writing of Ms. Resnick (book) and songs (music and lyrics) from that bodacious country-western singer that Doralee Rhodes is based on - the one and only "Backwoods Barbie" herself, Dolly Parton.
Following the screenplay pretty much to the letter, with a few minor adaptations here and there, 9 to 5 wisely stays set in 1979. Some scenes that worked on screen would be time consuming and difficult to manage onstage, so are omitted, such as the body snatching and subsequent high-speed chase after a stolen vehicle - and corpse - by the cops. It was a riot on film, but irrelevant here. One major addition to the storyline is a love interest for Violet (Allison Janney), a younger man named Joe (Andy Karl). A nice touch, as it lends hope to her ongoing struggle as a single mom. And what an ingenious choice giving Roz, Hart's confidante and closet paramour, a couple of tunes to sing, especially the over-the-top dream valentine "Heart to Hart". Kathy Fitzgerald plays Roz to the hilt.

Janney is pleasantly droll as Violet and Hilty as Doralee and Block as Judy, both dynamic singers, get the chance to strut their theatrically powerhouse stuff - and more than once, thanks to the Divine Miss Dolly! The chemistry of this trio, as with the stars in the movie, is heaven on earth. Also fascinating to watch - but in a devilishly despicable way - is Mark Kudisch as Hart.
With a fabulous cast, meticulous direction by Joe Mantello, zippy choreography in the fantasy sequences by Andy Blankenbuehler and a technologically brilliant set designed by Scott Pask, that operates, by what seems sheer wizardry - everything was smooth-sailing, at least the day I attended - this is LA's hottest ticket. In the words of Mr. Hart, teamwork runs the show!
5 out of 5 stars


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home