Working 9 to 5 may be “no way to make a living,” but watching office gals Judy, Doralee, and Violet and triumph over their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss makes for one absolutely delightful afternoon or evening of summertime entertainment at Glendale Centre Theatre under Martin Lang’s snappy direction.
You’ve probably seen the movie, the 1980 smash starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin as a secretarial trio whose “accidental” kidnapping of their misogynistic boss gives them the power to remake the company they’ve toiled for without reward—and remake their lives in the bargain.
9 To 5 The Musical writer Patricia Resnick wisely sticks closely to the movie’s plot, while Dolly Parton herself serves as songwriter for the musical adaptation of the film that made her a movie star, the result being a bright and bouncy journey back in time to a not-so-long-ago era when a male boss (they were all male back then, or so it seemed) could call his secretary a “girl” (there being no such thing as a female “office manager” in those bygone days) and get away with it.
SoCal favorite Karen Volpe lights up the stage as sharp-tongued Violet, and though Vi’s songs (written for non-singer Allison Janney) aren’t the most vocally challenging, Volpe sells them like the pro she is, in addition to showing off some spiffy dance steps in Vi’s big fantasy number “One Of The Boys” opposite a bevy of spangly male hotties.
Va-va-voomalicious Amy Gillette proves herself the next best thing to Dolly as curvy, country-glam Doralee, her “Backwoods Barbie” and “Cowgirl’s Revenge” revealing C-&-W pipes to match the exquisite legit soprano she showed off in Candlelight Pavilion’s Jekyll & Hyde this past fall.
As for Andrea Arvanigian, the vivacious star of GCT’s recent Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may be a good decade younger than housewife-turned-office worker Judy, but she gives a performance so utterly winning that no one will be counting years, and certainly not when the New York-bound triple-threat belts out “Get Out And Stay Out” to audience cheers.
Paul Preston smarms with the smarmiest of them as boss Franklin Hart Jr., the abovementioned sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot who’s about to get his comeuppance if Judy, Doralee, and Violet have anything to do with it.
Bringing love-struck Hart assistant Roz to deliciously quirky life is the one-and-only Tracy Ray Reynolds, who earns her own burst of applause with the showstopping “Heart to Hart.”
Ensemble tracks and cameos are brought to vivid life by more than a dozen GCT regulars and newbies including John David Wallis as Judy’s scumbag ex-husband Dick, Kelly Roberts as Doralee’s devoted hubby Dwayne, Matt Severyn as Violet’s besotted younger suitor Joe, Kyle Kelley as Consolidated CEO Mr. Tinsworthy, Amanda Reed Balley as Hart’s long-suffering wife Missy, Laurie Fedor as office lush Margaret, Calista Ruiz as Latin lovely Maria, Bridget Pugliese as perky office girl Kathy, Kevin Holmquist as Bob Enright, and Jacob Krech as Violet’s cute-and-spunky son Josh, with Maryanne Burr, Christopher Curry, Alana DeBlase, and Taylor Wesselman completing the terrific ensemble.
Choreographer Orlando Alexander gives all of the above a nonstop two-act dance workout, which they ace in one bouncy production number after another, most especially Act One’s “The Dance Of Death,” “Cowgirl’s Revenge,” and “Potion Notion,” a trio of dream-sequences fueled at GCT by mezcal and not (as on Broadway) by reefer madness. (Words like “bullshit” and “bitch” have been PG-ed too for sensitive ears.)
Musical director Steven Applegate has the entire cast singing to prerecorded orchestral (and what sound like sweetened backup vocal) tracks, expertly mixed by sound designer Alex Mackyol.
Costume designer Angela Manke scores high marks as always, this time outfitting her cast in nostalgic early-‘80s garb. Women’s wigs are fabulously period as well (which gives a couple of the leads’ own hair an anachronistic look by comparison).
Once again Glendale Center Theatre behind-the-scenes talents prove masters of in-the-round scenic and lighting design, with special snaps this time for plenty of movable desks equipped with actual typewriters. (Remember them?)
Paul Reid is stage manager.
Though 9 To 5 The Musical ended up not quite the Broadway smash its producers were hoping for (it closed after a mere 172 previews and performances), Judy, Doralee, and Violet have survived quite nicely indeed in regional theater.
To find out why, check out 9 To 5 The Musical at Glendale Centre Theatre for an afternoon or evening of feel-good family fun.
Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale.
July 16, 2105