Charleston Stage’s production of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: The Musical satisfies all the requirements of good musical comedy. Sure, it’s extremely campy and a bit over the top, but its message about women’s role in the workplace — an often overlooked theme in musical comedy — and talented cast makes it a truly enjoyable production.
The plot is a little silly, but it’s fun. It’s 1979, and three women who feel oppressed at work because of their gender successfully plot to take over their office by kidnapping their misogynistic boss. The best part is, in this show, the victory is not getting the guy but overthrowing him — something that definitely needs to be said sometimes in the theater.
The three female leads, Becca Anderson (Violet), Celine Keefe (Doralee), and Katrin Murdock (Judy) really carried the show to new heights. Not only did these three women have superb, powerful vocal abilities, but they were fully committed to their respective characters.
Kyle Barnette played the play’s antagonist, the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss Frank Hart, in just the right vein; we loved hating him, as we should, and he was funny. Karen Reid played Roz, Frank’s right hand “girl” and office rule enforcer. At first we don’t expect much from her character, but around the start of Act II, she performs an outstanding solo number, “Heart to Heart,” that made her also become a standout in the show.
The set, lighting, and costumes were all on par as well. They projected a colorful energy that complemented the ensemble’s committed performance perfectly. The ensemble is also worth noting, as they never lost energy and accented the leads impeccably.
There is little to criticize about the production, but at times the dance numbers were slightly lackluster. The choreography appeared to be simple, yet many of the moves were not completely in sync. It was a little off-putting in an otherwise near perfect production.
9 to 5 is definitely a must-see for any lover of musical comedy. If you don’t like musicals, though, you probably won’t like this one. There’s a superb cast, but still it is very much your typical kitschy, bubbly musical, even if this one has slightly more merit than most contemporary musicals.