Sunday, July 07, 2013

REVIEW: “9 to 5 The Musical” at The Empress Theatre

Last night we went to see “9 to 5: The Musical” at The Empress Theatre. I have always loved the 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, so naturally we were excited to see the musical version on stage at The Empress.
I did a review on the same musical at another theater in town about a year ago, and was excited to see it performed at The Empress. I was not disappointed!
The thing we love about attending shows at The Empress, as I’ve said in past reviews, is that your experience begins when you walk in to take your seats. There are always props in the hallway that help set the stage for the production you are about to see. It was fun to see the “old-fashioned” desks and telephones used for this production set up in the hallway. In this day and age of cell phones and cordless phones, seeing a rotary dial, corded phone brings back fun memories!
When you get to the seating area, the walls and stage are always painted according to the production they are performing. My kids especially get excited to see how The Empress is transformed for the newest production compared to the last one.
The music and lyrics were written by Dolly Parton, and she even makes a special “guest appearance” in the performance. Like the movie version, “9 to 5: The Musical” tells the story of inequality in the workplace in the late 70s. We brought our seven year old son and our nine year old daughter to see it with us, and it opened up a great dialogue about how things used to be, and how hard women have worked to gain equality in the workplace.
“While the story of three working women from different backgrounds and coming together to defeat their lying, hypocritical, sexist, egotistical boss is flat out hilarious, 9 to 5 also serves as a history lesson into the past; a reminder of the Women’s Movement, and even more, attitudes of a bygone era that we as a society wish not to return to,” said Jake Anderson, Director of 9 to 5. “The show also exhibits to women that being themselves, whomever they may be, is the best way to get ahead in this world.”
We were able to watch Cast A perform, and Mikael Short played Dolly Parton’s role of Doralee Rhodes. Short put her own spin on the character instead of just trying to play it how Dolly Parton did, which was enjoyable to watch. This is her first production at The Empress. She has a beautiful voice, and even has her own single, “He’s Not There”, that can be purchased in iTunes.
Chrisanne Sueltz, who played the role of Violet, and Tanya Rasmussen, who played Judy, also put their own spin on their characters instead of just playing the roles made famous by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Rasmussen delivered a touching performance of “Get Out and Stay Out”, a song about gaining her independence and realizing she is going to be okay.
Sueltz played a very passionate Violet in standing up for herself against her egotistical boss. You could feel the frustration in her character and what she felt like not being recognized for her hard work in an office run by “the boys’ club”.
We also enjoyed watching the exchange between Mr. Hart (played by Matthew Green) and his assistant Roz (played by Rachael Rasmussen). Rasmussen’s mannerisms in her interactions with Green were hilarious, to say the least. The way she batted her eyes, or slightly touched his arm, and then to watch the reaction of Green, had us watching them closely every time they were on stage together.
We love how the performers at The Empress put their own spin on their characters and the production. “9 to 5: The Musical” is a must-see for all that love a hilarious story with catchy songs and a great message.
“9 to 5: The Musical” is playing at The Empress Theatre every Monday, Friday and Saturday now through July 27. You can purchase tickets at the box office, or online.
Make sure to connect with The Empress on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all of their productions.
I was provided with two complimentary tickets to attend and review a performance of 9 To 5. I was not compensated for my review, nor was I persuaded to write any specific type of review. All of the views and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Photo credit: Deanne Rutledge Jones
Photo credit: Deanne Rutledge Jones
Photo credit: Deanne Rutledge Jones

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