Whether it was the movie starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda or the hit title song, “9 To 5” was a fixture of the 1980s that never really went away. When it was revived by Parton and Patricia Resnik on Broadway in 2009, it earned four Tony Award nominations and 15 Drama Desk Award nominations (breaking the record in a single year), all of which paved the way for a successful national tour.
As a result, the “9 To 5” ladies get the last laugh on so many levels, while sending area audiences home beaming over both this blast to the shoulder-padded past and another victory for women in the workplace.
For the first time in the Chicago area since its original run, the Woodstock Musical Theatre Company is putting its sunny spin on the joke-laden tale for workplace equality. Though a pre-taped Parton serves as the narrator who bookends the show, co-leads Alison Hage (Violet), Maggie McCord (Doralee) and Colleen Galvicius (Judy) do a lot of the heavy lifting in the show and its fictional office environment weighed down by an egotistical, chauvinistic and bigoted boss Mr. Hart (perfectly embodied by a dynamic actor/singer double threat Kevin Pollack).
Nowadays, scenes of a boss’ request for his secretaries to make coffee or sexual harassment of any nature would never be tolerated, but then again, this story is set nearly 40 years ago and found these trailblazing women way ahead of their time. However, the stage musical edition of “9 To 5” at the historic Woodstock Opera House isn’t exclusivity retro, also incorporating many of Parton’s tunes from the 2000s interpreted with passion by the three ladies.
And of course there are serious doses of madcap comedy, such as Violet’s accidental poisoning of Mr. Hart’s coffee, and later, his full-fledged kidnapping, attempted shooting and being held hostage at home while the half-gutsy/half-crazy co-workers give the office a complete overhaul from a female perspective. Throughout it all, the supporting ensemble (some of whom are stronger than others) go from suspicious to overjoyed at the changes, which eventually provokes a visit from the Chairman of the Board demanding to know who’s responsible for the improvements.
By that time, Mr. Hart may have escaped captivity, but his attempt to explain all the previous shenanigans sounds so preposterous no one winds up believing his side of the story. As a result, the “9 To 5” ladies get the last laugh on so many levels, while sending area audiences home beaming over both this blast to the shoulder-padded past and another victory for women in the workplace.
“9 To 5” returns to the Woodstock Opera House on Saturday, April 15. For additional details on the show and the Woodstock Musical Theatre Company, visit WoodstockTheatre.org.