Punching Out: 9 to 5 Will Close Sept. 6; Tour Will Launch in Nashville

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29 Jul 2009

<I>9 to 5</I> stars Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block
9 to 5 stars Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block
Joan Marcus

The marquee value of both songwriter Dolly Parton and the hit title 9 to 5 was not enough to keep the new musical version of the popular 1980 movie alive on Broadway. The musical will close Sept. 6.

Producer Robert Greenblatt told his cast the bad news before the matinee on July 29. The financial loss for Greenblatt and his partners doesn't keep them from thinking 9 to 5: The Musical has legs: a national tour is in the works, to launch the week of Sept. 20, 2010, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.

By close, the Broadway run of 9 to 5 will have played 148 performances and 24 previews.

"I couldn't have asked for a better experience on my first Broadway show," stated Dolly Parton. "I've had the privilege of working with an amazing group of people who have become like family to me. I can't wait for this show to hit the road so people across the country can see why I'm so proud of everyone involved. And I'm so pleased that we'll be opening the tour in Nashville. Great things happen in Nashville."

The critics weren't all that interested in the production at the Marquis Theatre, but fans of the picture that starred Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda howled to their favorite lines from the script and tapped their feet to the expanded title number, which serves as the opening sequence, choreographed by In the Heights Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler (who was Tony-nommed for his work here).



Joe Mantello (Wicked) directed the show, which features a libretto by Broadway newcomer Patricia Resnick (who created the film story and co-wrote the screenplay).

It is thought that a return of Irving Berlin's White Christmas will be the next tenant at the Marquis, for a run between November and January. That seasonal show played the Marquis in 2008. No official announcement has been made.

In the roles created by Parton, Tomlin and Fonda, the Broadway trio of secretaries included Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block. Their work is preserved on a cast album released by Dolly Records in July 28.

9 to 5: The Musical opened April 30. Judy (Block), Doralee (Hilty) and Violet (Janney) — three office workers who are "just a step on the bossman's ladder," according to the title tune — came to life on Broadway on April 7, the first day of previews. The troupers had a fall 2008 tryout world-premiere run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

The stage score includes six 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.

9 to 5 was nominated for 2009 Tony Awards in the following categories: Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Dolly Parton), Best Actress in a Musical (Janney), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Kudisch), Best Choreography (Blankenbuehler).

Allison Janney won the 2009 Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her work in the show.

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As in the film, the heroines of the piece 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 set around 1980.

Of the Broadway process, Parton admitted, "I was kinda scared of it…I thought, 'This is a whole different world to me. I hear these people can just eat you up alive.' And I thought, 'Well, I'm not one to be eaten alive without kickin' and a-fightin'!'"

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. (Kudisch), Violet Newstead (Janney), the super efficient office manager, Judy Bernly (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.

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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 30-member opening-night cast featured 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.