9 TO 5: THE MUSICALBook by Patricia Resnick, Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Based on the 20th Century Fox picture
Director: Steven D. Morris
Musical Director: Michael Plantz
Choreographer: Dawn Prejean
Stage Manager: Rebecca Rickey
Set Design: Kevin Brown
Scenic Artist: Angie Glover
Sound Design: Bill Eickenloff
Prop Design: Robin Dotson
Costume Design: Janice Pennington
Maria: Aly Badalamenti
Doralee: Kaitie Badalamenti
Detective: Nik Blocker
Bob: Tevin Cates
Judy: Daron Cockerell
Violet: Mary Grim
Dwayne: Daniel Hernandez
Dick: Rodney Honeycutt
Ensemble: Emily-Kate Ivey
Joe: Jake Kelly Harris
Kathy: Donovan Lawson
Tinsworthy: Dennis Maher
Doctor: George Sepulveda
Margaret: Melanie Mason
Josh: Ashton Morales
Candy Striper: Alexandra Neary
Ensemble: Ashlyn Nichols
Missy: Cathy Pritchett
Roz: Jan Roeton
Mr. Hart: James Williams
Reviewed Performance: 9/15/2018
Reviewed by Eli Berke, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
My second review for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN, I was assigned to review Theater Arlington’s latest production, the musical 9 to 5. The first impression you’ll receive upon sitting in surprisingly comfy seats, is the stage is remarkably bare for a musical. Later, we learn the reason for this is because “an office that looks efficient IS efficient.” Three double sided flats spin to allow for multiple locations, which serves as an efficient and slightly genius use for smooth transitions. However, there is just something missing; for a space that requires people to live, breath, stress, and essentially kill themselves in, the space doesn’t feel very “lived in”. As the show progresses, this issue is somewhat laid aside. But for a setting with such significance to the show, it becomes a caricature itself, and this character didn’t feel entirely realized as it seems like other characters are interacting with the space for the first time.
The show opens to a weathered but sympathetic Violet (played by Mary Gilbreath Grim) training the sweet and flighty Judy (portrayed by Daron Cockerell). Judy, we learn has never had a desk job before, but as Violet sarcastically puts it, “I love a challenge,” and the relationship is made. Along the way we meet the rest of the office, which includes the iconic role Doralee (Kait Badalamenti). The three are bonded over their mutual hatred for their misogynistic boss, Mr. Hart (James Williams). The talent radiating from the three leading ladies is what makes this show special. Their chemistry is impeccable, and each woman is a power house of a singer (Ms. Daron’s performance of Judy is so natural, her song Get out and Stay Out will take you by surprise).
Another unexpected stand out is the adorable Ms. Roz (as played by Ms. Jan Roeton). Although her character comes off as, how shall we put it lightly, a b*tch, you can’t help but let loose a sympathetic “awe” during her ballad, Heart to Hart.
Mr. Williams performance as the antagonistic Mr. Hart, while is by no means bad, did leave me wanting slightly more from him. As a 1970’s personification of a Harvey Weinstein equivalent, this reviewer would have appreciated more sleaze and threatening passion to get what he wants. However, Mr. Williams’ charisma with the audience is what makes his portrayal connected and engaging.
The ensemble of this show, while generally very good, lacked a lot of chemistry with the main actors. Vocal energy seemed low, and the difference at times was very noticeable. However, in it are some very standout moments and performances, such as the hospital scene and Melanie Mason’s role as Margaret (which, let me break the fourth wall here for a second and just say, GURL SAME!), as well as more unlisted.
Make no mistake, I did enjoy the show, however the first and last moments of this show were rough. Sound for the first number was muddled, and whether it was the actors or the sound mixing, I was forced to lean forward to try and understand what was being said. Similarly, the final number, again be it the band or the actors, started slightly offbeat and had to fight to regain footing. However, I believe it to be forgivable if they work to not repeat mistakes, as myself and anyone who has ever performed live knows the curse that is “second show slump”. The dancing and given blocking are decent, however there are far too many instances of characters fully turned away from the audience, speaking entirely upstage (dialogue is saved by the coincidental use of microphones, however its far from optimal.) Much of the show is performed in profile to the audience, which from my mid-section seating was fine, but again, is less than optimal especially for audience members not as lucky to be centered with the stage. And high-stake moments (such as Mr. Hart tripping or the later restraining of him) happens in very slow and inorganic ways. Never should an actor risk their safety in the name of raising stakes, but attention to detail and choreography for these moments would have been greatly appreciated. However, for these moments, there are good ones as well. Numbers like One of The Boys delights with its smooth dancing and jazzy notes, and the dream sequence were musical numbers that were just plain fun.
Despite its flaws and imperfections, Theatre Arlington’s 9 to 5 is still an entertaining musical you’ll want to catch before its closing. All in all, it’s a wonderful show that’ll be fun for the whole family (fans of the 1970s for sure!) that you’d be unfortunate to miss.
Theatre Arlington is located at 305 W Main St, Arlington, TX 76010. Ticket info can be found at http://www.theatrearlington.org/