September 14, 2014
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Theatre Review
Light and fluffy '9 to 5' at Theatre-By-The-Sea
Don Fowler
Photo by Mark Turek
Rhode Island native Kevin Pariseau as Franklin Hart Jr., is surrounded by (from left) Lulu Lloyd, Jan Leigh Herndon and Maggie McDowell as Judy, Violet and Doralee in the Rhode Island premiere of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5: The Musical” being presented at Theatre-By-the-Sea through Aug. 11. For tickets call 782-TKTS (8587) or visit www.theatrebythesea.com.

Whether it’s the classic “Sound of Music” or the light and fluffy “9 to 5,” Theatre-by-the-Sea sure knows how to put on a show.

Director Russell Garrett has taken the Dolly Parton light and fluffy musical, which has had more success on the road than it ever had on Broadway, and turned it into a fun night of summer theatre.

While the story, based on the movie, is a bit dated and silly, Garrett and a great cast have fun with it, playing it broadly and enlisting lots of laughter from the audience.

Set in the late ’70s, the musical brings back many memories about male-dominated offices, where the “girls” got the coffee for their bosses, were paid less than their male counterparts, and were subject to numerous sexist comments and behaviors. The office brings back memories of typewriters, white out, ancient copy machines, manual files and complete male dominance.

Rhode Island native Kevin Pariseau is perfect as the sexist pig who gets what he deserves at the end of this office romp. Jan Leigh Herndon plays Violet, the ambitious single mother who is constantly passed over for promotions and finally reaches her breaking point. There’s a sub-story about her being wooed by a younger clerk. Maggie McDowell plays the Dolly Parton role as Doralee, the big-busted blonde whose relationship with the boss is misunderstood by her peers. Lulu Lloyd plays Judy, the new girl in the office who possesses no skills but has a big heart and desire to learn.

Together, they kidnap their boss and take over the office, instituting such “radical” policies as day care, job sharing, rehab assistance, hiring the handicapped and all around attitude adjustment.

The musical is a bit slow getting started (fault of the book by Patricia Resnick), but soars in the second act as the “girls” take over the office and initiate changes that turn the company around. She has added some dream sequences that add little to the musical. There’s a fun ending and a post-script to tell you what happened to the main characters.

Close your eyes and you can picture Dolly Parton singing most of the songs, which are nice, if not classic. You’ll recognize “9 to 5,” which opens and closes the musical. My favorite was “Get Out and Stay Out,” beautifully sung by Lloyd, who had the best voice in the cast. Cranstonian Marcia Zammarelli, a RIC Theatre faculty member, designed some great costumes, reminiscent of the era.

“9 to 5: The Musical” is at Theatre-By-the-Sea through Aug. 11. For reservations call 782-8587. Tickets range from $39-$54. Arrive early and check out their beautiful gardens.


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