9 to 5 The Musical: A Review

You won't find a more devoted Dolly fan than me, and that's the hard truth. So I really went into this show wanting to like it. Allison Janney was of course another plus, as I love her as well, so my good will for this production was pretty high, which frankly was probably what allowed me to have such a good time with it.

The movie into musical phenomenon of the past few years has not exactly thrilled me. Most of the ones I've seen have left me pretty cold, and sadly this one didn't really fare much better. Movies just have a different pacing structure, and unless it is something where you can totally ditch the performances of the original actors, and bring something different to the table, then you are stuck with the comparisons. Of the three leads in this show I think Allison Janney went the furthest towards making Violet her own. She was able to overcome Lily Tomlin's portrayal, and made it fresh. Stephenie Block in Jane Fonda's role probably had the least to overcome, at least for me. But poor Megan Hilty was left with the real conundrum... to play Dora Lee, or to play Dolly Parton playing Dora Lee. Sadly they directed her towards the latter and I think that was to her doom. She lacks the personality to bring it off, and I can't help but wonder if the show would have been better off if they could have divorced Dora from Dolly and allowed an actress to create a new spin on the role. In the end all that is really required is for her to be a bit of a sex-bomb. There is nothing really Dolly specific in the role.

Dolly herself did an admirable job with the show. She wrote 16 new songs, and dusted off "9 to 5" and "Backwoods Barbie," extending them both and adding several new verses and reprise to "9 to 5." While the songs were solid, it was really apparent that she has never written for this genre before. The songs were almost entirely written as asides, and never integrated into the show as a way to progress the story the way they do in the best musicals. But still, fun music, and certainly it showed her trademark charm.

The set was... a bit overwhelming. Scott Pask turns in another admirable performance, but something just seemed... off. There certainly was a LOT of set. At times it seemed to be a show about set changes. There awlays seemed to be something in motion, some wall coming or going, or a line of desks shifting by. The best thing I saw was the movement between the outer office, where the secerataries sit to Mr. Hart's office, the scenery sort of inverted and folded in on itself to create the new space. A cool transition, at least the first time I saw it. The fourth... The rest of the show though just seemed clunky. The giant LED screen at the back was never really used to its full potential, and in fact was more often a distraction. Sadly the most clever thing on stage scenery wise was the act curtain, made of telephone hand sets and curled telephone cord.

In all... not a perfect show, perhaps not even a good show, but a FUN show. I had a good time, and in the end that's enough.

1 Response to "9 to 5 The Musical: A Review"

  • Flip Chick Says:

    I agree that 9 TO 5 is a fun show. I had a blast when I saw it.

    By the way, according to interviews that Dolly has given, she wrote Backwoods Barbie for the musical, but decided to put it on her album since it described herself just as much as the character of Doralee that she was writing for. AND she figured there would be a nice tie-in to the musical when it came out.