9 to 5: The Musical

Workplace High Jinks

A hit movie that came out in 1980, Nine to Five showcased Dolly Parton as Doralee, Lily Tomlin as Violet and Jane Fonda as Judy. The three women are fed up with their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss and ultimately improve the workplace for women. Then 32 years later, it was re-written as a Broadway musical, with Dolly Parton adding the songs. The musical is even funnier than the original movie, with the addition of retrospective humour.

Thanks to 20-20 hindsight, the attitude of the seventies is even more hilarious. The current production of 9 to 5: The Musical running at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend is non-stop full of laughs. Drayton Entertainment’s Artistic Director Alex Mustakas gets double the credit for the comedy: he not only directs this show, but also has a lead role in it. And, we’ll have to give him credit for good casting, as well. Putting himself in the role made famous by Dabney Coleman was genius.

As the male chauvinist pig boss, Mustakas is perfect. In the program, he reminds his children that this is “just acting”. He has the 70’s look with mustache and sideburns. It’s been 12 years since he’s performed on stage, so for many of us it is a pleasant surprise to see him and hear him sing. He handles the solos in 9 to 5 very well.

Also well cast are the three ladies: Lisa Horner is perfect as the widow Violet. You’ll remember Lisa for her hilarious performance as Penny’s mother in Hairspray, and as the “Start the Car!” in the Ikea ads. Recently she was the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz at Huron Country Playhouse. She has as the necessary comedic timing, but also touches us as Violet when we see her struggling with her lot in life.

Jayme Armstrong is Judy, who has to return to the workforce when her husband leaves her for a 19 year old. Jayme brings the sweet and shy Judy on a very believable journey to becoming a strong, independent woman. Joanna Guistini gives a very good Dolly Parton impersonation, both in looks and voice.

The scene stealer is N. Settimi playing Roz, the boss’s personal secretary, who is smitten with him. Roz also spies on the other employees and reports back to the boss, but her love remains unrequited. I wasn’t familiar with N.Settimi’s photo in the program, so you will have to see the show for yourself to learn more about this actor. Roz received a long standing ovation on opening night. David Cotton, a favourite in Hairspray and High School Musical at Huron Country Playhouse, is delightful as Joe the accountant and sings a touching love ballad to Violet. Adding to the humour is Kathleen Sheehy as Margaret, the office lush.

A large supporting cast of strong singers and amazing dancers gives this show a real Broadway look. There are many costume changes, thanks in part to the three ladies’ fantasy scenes. Suffice to say that they each have a vision for doing away with their egotistical, hypocritical, arrogant boss, and each fantasy gets funnier. There are many interesting set changes in this big production, including a large photocopier, the back end of a Ford Pinto, a working garage door opener, a secretarial pool, and a washroom all set against a colourful background.

What makes this production so funny is the use of retro humour: knowing what we know in 2012 and inserting that knowledge into the 1970s’ framework. Judy gets a big laugh when she says “no head of a company would fix the books and steal from his stockholders.” If you just have a vague memory of laughing at the movie 32 years ago, then it’s time you came to see the musical version. Trust me; it’s even funnier in retrospect. And, believe it or not, you will be welcomed to Huron Country Playhouse by Dolly Parton herself!

9 to 5 continues with eight shows a week until August 11 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com

9 to 5: The Musical
Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Based on the 20th Century Fox Picture
Directed by Alex Mustakas
Choreographed by Gino Berti
Musical direction by Robert Foster
Performed by Lisa Horner, Jayme Armstrong, Joanna Guistini, Alex Mustakas, N. Settimi, Kathleen Sheehy, David Cotton, et al.
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
July 26 to August 11, 2012
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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