Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 28, 2014

9 to 5: the Musical

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow, MA
through May 10th 2014
by Eric Johnson

Yes, the 1980 movie is also a musical.

Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick will not likely be compared to Rogers and Hammerstein for this work; however, the show is good for quite a few laughs and some toe tapping.

Jeff Clayton plays the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” Franklin Hart just enough over the top (verbally and physically) to elicit enthusiastic laughter from the opening night audience. Kathy Renaud is most entertaining in her portrayal of the hopelessly infatuated Roz, Hart’s executive assistant. The chemistry between Doralee, Judy and Violet, is crucial to this show and Jami Byrne-Wilson, Emily Stisser and Diane Lamoureaux pull it off without a hitch. The characters' relationship changes and grows dramatically and swiftly. These extremely talented actresses handle it deftly, creating many moving comical, and dramatic moments. The scene stealing supporting role award goes to Heather Maloney as Margaret. She reels across the stage sipping from a flask eliciting numerous laughs. All supporting characters and ensemble did a very nice job and complemented the production ably.

Music director George Garber Jr assembled competent, talented musicians to provide the soundtrack for the evening’s entertainment. The opening number ("9 to 5") did seem to be going a bit fast for performance as an ensemble piece and, as a result, was a bit shaky. There are, however, many enjoyable musical highlights to the evening. The songs "I Just Might," "Backwoods Barbie," "One of the Boys" and "Let Love Grow" all showcase the assembled musical, vocal and dance talent present in the theater.

Director Scott Nelson, along with Mike Crowther, created a very stylish and functional (albeit sparse) set design using modular, multitasking pieces. Fiendishly clever.

If criticisms must be made, the show could benefit from some general tightening up, pace and timing were not consistent. Perhaps opening night jitters are to blame for that. There were numerous anachronisms in costumes and hairstyles. If the show is set 300 years ago, few will notice, when it is set 35 years ago, that’s a different story.

That said, an on-stage office full of singing, dancing and jokes galore is a nice way to wrap a week of one’s own 9 to 5.