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A CurtainUp Review
9 to 5: The Musical

Laura Hitchcock
I wanted to be vice-president but a woman with bigger boobs beat me to Washington.
—Doralee (the Dolly Parton character, who wound up as a country western singer.
9 to 5.
Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty and Allison Janney in 9 to 5.
(Photo: Craig Schwartz)

9 to 5: The Musical is ready for its close-up on the Great White Way! Already booked into the Marriott Marquis for April 2009, the musical version of the film hit with lyrics and music by one of its original stars, Dolly Parton, needs no tweaking.

Patricia Resnick's book is faithful to her screenplay in which three women in 1979 take a corporation away from their sexist bullying boss. This time the women are Allison Janney as Violet the office manager; Megan Hilty as voluptuous blonde Doralee, the boss's secretary and lust object; and Stephanie J. Block as new girl on the block, Judy. The ogling boss, Franklin Hart, is played by Marc Kudisch, a hunk who enjoys being bad.

Directed by Joe Mantello and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler who work together like vodka and kalua, the show boasts glorious fantasy numbers that give each actress a chance to strut her stuff. A sensuous Block slithers in a blue sequined gown in "Dance O' Death", displaying as well as great legs a unique voice that ranges from belt to a delicate feathery quality in her soft tones. Hilty performs "Cowgirl's Revenge" with an ebullient naivete that takes the joke out of her double D size breasts. Janney, in her first stage musical, projects a big voice and holds the stage with endearing authority as "One of the Boys." Kathy Fitzgerald as Roz, the fat drab woman who is the only employee devotedly in lust with Hart, does full justice to her wonderful solo "Heart to Hart", which becomes a fantasy number with a variety of slinky dancers in all shapes and shades expressing her inner passionista.

Parton's score includes two of her classics: "9 to 5" and "Backwoods Barbie." She's also written some lovely, potential Grammy winning ballads: "Out of Control," "The One I Love" and "5 to 9." The last, a particularly poignant ballad about the lonely nights Roz spends away from the office and her unrequited love. "Tell Tell Tattletale" which satirizes office gossip is the funniest entry in the sprightly score.

William Ivey Long's pitch perfect costumes are in bright primary colors. Particularly dashing are men's suits with the pinstripes in spangles for the nifty chorus. Scott Pask's clever set design with its movable furniture is never too sleek for a corporate office.

Not as dated as some might expect, the show has the universal appeal of working people banding together to overcome the biggest obstacle of all, the guy who controls their work lives. Resnick's flair for humor hasn't deserted her and she's topicalized some jokes (as in the quote at the top of this review).< This is a broad raunchy comedy by women, about women— and for everybody.

9 to 5: The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton. Book: Patricia Resnick
Director: Joe Mantello
Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler
Cast: Allison Janney (Violet), Megan Hilty (Doralee), Stephanie J. Block (Judy), Kathy Fitzgerald (Roz), Marc Kudisch (Franklin Hart, Jr.), Andy Karl (Joe), Charlie Pollock (Dwayne), Ann Harada (Kathy), Maia Nkenge Wilson (Anita), Tory Ross (Daphne), Lisa Howard (Missy), Joana Alfonso (Maria), Karen Murphy (Margaret), Van Hughes (Josh), Dan Cooney (Dick), Jeremy Davis (Bob Enright), Michael X. Martin (Tinsworthy)
Set Design: Scott Pask
Imaging: Peter Nigrini
Lighting Design: Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Sound Design: John H. Shivers
Running Time: Two and a half hours, one intermission
Running Dates: September 3-October 19, 2008
Where: The Ahmanson, Center Theatre Group, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, Reservations: (213) 628-2772.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on September 21, 2008.
Musical Numbers: 9 to 5, Around Here, Here for You, Out of Control, Tattletales, 9 to 5 (Reprise), The One I Love, Backwoods Barbie, Dance O'Death, Cowgirl's Revenge, Potion Notion, Heart to Hart, I Killed the Boss!, Shine Like the Sun, Entr'acte, Around Here (Reprise), One of the Boys, 5 to 9, Mundania, Willin/Well-Oiled Machine, Get Out and Stay Out, Let Love Grow, Mundania (Reprise), Finale: 9 to 5.
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