Dolly Parton greets us from a screen located at the back of the stage, introducing the musical version (for which she wrote the songs and lyrics) of the original 1980 movie with script by Patricia Resnick and director Colin Higgins, in which she co-starred. With spunky direction and choreography by James Ilsley, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre’s community-theater production of 9 to 5: The Musical is a summer delectation.
The efficient set, also by Ilsley, with walls which serve multiple purposes and furnishings which almost become characters as the cast moves them around, is an entertainment in itself. Dolly’s screen also becomes part of the set, with backgrounds of cityscapes and other locational references.
Costumes come alive right out of the late 1970s in the capable hands of James Ilsley and Ashley Lorenz Popio, personifying the characters who wear them, and lending depth to their identities. The wigs match personas as well, in particular Doralee’s Dolly Parton-esque frazzle and Roz’s Dutch Boy.
Parton’s spritely songs and sometimes racy lyrics, under the musical direction of Brian Westbrook, are charming and the dance routines delightfully flamboyant.
Mary Beth Hollmann as Violet, AC Donohue as Doralee, and Mary Reilly as Judy represent pre-liberation women office workers of the mid-1970s who become galvanized to action by the sexist and dishonorable behavior of their boss. Reilly presents her role as a smart but down-on-her-luck mother, cast aside by her husband and coming into the office work world with no experience, who finds herself as the story progresses.
Mary Beth Hollmann gives Violet some mystery in her personal life, and portrays her growth from mildly stern office manager to the top of the ladder with appropriate humility and integrity. She also displays a remarkable talent for comedy, with both timing and delivery.
AC Donohue, in the role made famous by Dolly Parton, has undertaken a tough job and manages it with aplomb and grace. She brings a Barbie-like quality to the role, and belts out music with a commanding and lovely voice.
Although these three talented women are the prime movers of the plot, Bill Andrews makes Franklin Hart, Jr. every inch of despicable a man can be, and does it with a comedic touch, amply showcased with his evocative hip gyrations and evil expressions. Andrews is also endowed with a magnificent singing voice. You might say, the man swings.
Joe, who sides with the women after learning their secret, is made heroic by David Kerman, who also beautifully sings one of half of the duet “Let Love Grow” with Mary Beth Hollmann’s Violet.
The ensemble is well chosen, they generate a flood of energy and keep the dances filled with action and mirth.
NRACT’s rendition of 9 to 5: The Musical opened as a smash hit, last Friday night, and has two more weekends to go. It is pure entertainment and a great treat for a hot summer night.
SECOND OPINION: July 12th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/07/colorful-crazy-and-fabulous-9-to-5-at-nract-is-absolutely-flawless/.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL at 3 p.m. July 12, 8 p.m. July 16-18, 3 p.m. July 19, 8 p.m. July 23-25, and 3 p.m. July 26 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $12 Thursday, $20 ($17 students, seniors, active-duty military personnel, and teachers) Friday and Saturday, and $18 ($15 students, seniors, active-duty military personnel, and teachers) Sunday.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228 or http://nract.org/tickets.
SHOW: http://nract.org/upcoming-productions/623-9-to-5 and https://www.facebook.com/events/375914129286295/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
9 to 5 (1980 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/85046/Nine-to-Five/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080319/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_to_5_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
9 to 5: The Musical (2009 Broadway musical comedy): http://www.9to5themusical.com/ (official website), http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000385 (Music Theatre International), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=480315 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_to_5_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Dolly Parton (music and lyrics): http://dollyparton.com/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000573/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=480323 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/DollyParton (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/dollyparton (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_Parton (Wikipedia).
Patricia Resnick (book): http://www.patriciaresnick.com/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0720334/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=480322 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/patriciaresnick9to5 (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/patriciaresnick (Twitter page).
James Ilsley (director): https://www.facebook.com/jamesilsley (Facebook page) and https://twitter.com/jamesilsley (Twitter page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.