By Kenneth Jones
30 Apr 2009
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
In the new Dolly Parton-scored musical version of the workplace tale — which has a libretto by the picture's screenwriter and story creator, Patricia Resnick — Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty and Allison Janney take on roles created by Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, respectively. They still prey on chauvinist boss Franklin Hart (here played by Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch), but their worlds and passions are now more fully realized with songs, new mates and fresh scenes. There's also a video screen upstage to create atmosphere and settings ("imaging" is by Peter Nigrini & Peggy Eisenhauer).
Like the film, the musical is also set in 1979. Judy (Block), Doralee (Hilty) and Violet (Janney) — three office workers who were "just a step on the bossman's ladder," according to the title tune — came to life on Broadway on April 7, the first days of previews for 9 to 5: The Musical.
The stage score includes the famous Academy Award-nominated song by composer-lyricist Parton, plus 16 new Parton songs written especially for the show. 9 to 5 marks the songwriting Broadway debut of the seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician.
Musical direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus (Wicked, All Shook Up).
Parton told Playbill.com in a summer 2008 interview, "I was more than happy to adjust and adapt to anything they needed me to change. I didn't take that as an insult as a writer. I thought, 'Well, this is what they do — they should know.' And I certainly can change it, I can write on my feet, y'know. They were impressed 'cause I'd never done [this] before. I was kinda proud of myself, 'cause I didn't know that I could do it at all."
Parton has said that 9 to 5 is a theatre score, not a country music score — despite the fact that Parton recorded and released one country-flavored song from the show, "Backwoods Barbie," a number for Doralee.
Here's the 9 to 5 plot in a nutshell: "When pushed to their boiling point by their boss, Franklin Hart, Jr. (Marc Kudisch), Violet Newstead (Allison Janney), the super efficient office manager, Judy Bernly (Stephanie J. Block), a frazzled divorcee, and the sexy executive secretary Doralee Rhodes (Megan Hilty) turn the tables on him. The trio hatches a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot, and that plan quickly spins wildly and hilariously out of control."
The production features scenic design by two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask, costume design by five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony Award winners Jules Fisher and Kenneth Posner and sound design by John H. Shivers. Oremus also shares credit (with Alex Lacamoire) for additional orchestrations and incidental music arrangements. Orchestrations are by Bruce Coughlin. Lacamoire wrote the dance music arrangements. Hair design is by Paul Huntley and Edward J. Wilson. Production supervisor is William Joseph Barnes.
9 to 5: The Musical stars four-time Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Janney ("The West Wing," Present Laughter), Block (The Pirate Queen, Wicked) as Judy and Hilty (Wicked) as Doralee, plus two-time Tony Award nominee Kudisch (Bells Are Ringing, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Franklin Hart Jr., the chauvinist boss women loved to hate 30 years ago in the movie comedy.
The troupers had a fall 2008 tryout world-premiere run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
The 30-member cast also features Kathy Fitzgerald (as evil office supervisor Roz), Andy Karl (as accounting employee Joe, a possible love interest for Violet), Ioana Alfonso, Timothy George Anderson, Jennifer Balagna, Justin Bohon, Paul Castree, Daniel Cooney, Jeremy Davis, Gaelen Gilliland, Autumn Guzzardi, Ann Harada, Neil Haskell, Lisa Howard, Van Hughes, Michael X. Martin, Michael Mindlin, Karen Murphy, Mark Myars (dance captain), Justin Patterson, Jessica Lea Patty, Charlie Pollock, Tory Ross, Wayne Schroder, Maia Nkenge Wilson and Brandi Wooten.
9 To 5: The Musical is produced by Robert Greenblatt, Green State Productions, Richard Levi, John McColgan/Moya Doherty/Edgar Dobie, James L. Nederlander/Terry Allen Kramer, Independent Presenters Network, JAM Theatricals, Bud Martin, Michael Watt, The Weinstein Co/Sonia Friedman/Dede Harris, Norton Herrick/Matthew C Blank/Joan Stein, Center Theatre Group, Toni Dowgiallo and GFOUR Productions.
The Marriott Marquis is located at 1535 Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets.
The playing schedule for 9 to 5 is as follows: Tuesday at 7 PM; Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM; with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com (212) 307-4100 or at the Marriott Marquis Theater Box Office and range from $126.50 to $66.50.
For more information visit www.9to5themusical.com.
The new Broadway production of Waiting for Godot is also scheduled to open April 30, a rare Broadway happening. Usually producers try to avoid a conflict in dates to help draw as much press coverage as possible. Read the recent Playbill.com Feature about this.
Both 9 to 5 and Godot are the final productions to open during the 2008-2009 theatre season.