Northwood High School Academy
Alarm clocks sound off, radios are clicked on, and three intelligent women are off to change the rules of the office in a progressive era for women across the country. McLean High School's professional caliber production of 9 to 5: The Musical takes us back to a time not so long ago where women accelerated their fight for equality in a "man's world."
The Tony nominated musical, 9 to 5 is based upon the 1980 film of the same name and features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick. The story revolves around three women from separate walks of life that hold a mutual experience of inequality at the workplace. Each of them resents their sexist boss Franklin Hart, Jr. who not only treats them unfairly, but is outright rude to their faces. Scheming to kidnap Mr. Hart, this team of motivated and strong "w-o-m-e-n" band together to create a better life at the office and gain the respect that they deserve.
The ensemble and many featured characters greatly contributed to the comical relief of the production. From the 30-person ensemble hilariously storming the aisles dressed as Mr. Hart in Roz's (Abby Comey) love song "Heart to Hart," to Margaret (Anna Kate Womack), a drunk coworker constantly pestering the three leads at the office, these performers did not hold anything back.
Steadfast and independent, Haley Rose as Violet delivered a polished feel and relatability. Her mature speaking voice, grounded stance, and witty comebacks created an undeniably believable character. Erica Bass as Doralee truly captured the classic Dolly Parton aura with her southern twang and upbeat personality. Her vocals were sincerely remarkable throughout the entirety of the production. Rounding out the trio was Abby Covington as the recently divorced Judy. Her song, "Get Out and Stay Out," featured raw honesty and a wildly impressive belt voice, making her performance incredibly moving.
As the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss Franklin Hart, Jr. was sophomore, Benji Harris. Performing provocative hip circles while wearing a mustache, Harris embraced his role and ran with it. Performing such a character can be hard to tackle as such a young performer, but Harris demonstrated no signs of discomfort, making him even more believable.
The technical elements at McLean High School were superb. From a surprising fly system lifting the flailing Mr. Hart into the air, to complementary lighting design by lighting head, Brendan Camp, the technical crew was astounding. Brilliantly planned, each leading lady had a signature costume color to distinguish their personality and role. Whether it be red for Violet or pink for Doralee, each character was shown in the best light.
Rooted in an important message of female empowerment, McLean High School's 9 to 5: The Musical achieved more than just the presentation of a magnificent show. The company effectively reminds us of a time when women were treated in an unthinkable manner and how females, no matter what period, can create their own destiny if they work together from 9 to 5.
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program
9 to 5: The Musical, with music and lyrics by country music icon Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, is the 2008-premiered musical based on the classic 80's movie of the same title. This hilarious tale of women fighting for equality in the workplace combines music styles from country western to tap dancing to highlight the distinct characterization of its three leading ladies. The plot follows single mother and aspiring CEO Violet Newstead, secretary Doralee Rhodes who longs to be appreciated for more than her good looks, and new-to-the-working-life Judy Bernly as they try to save their jobs at the company by kidnapping their boss, Franklin Hart. After Violet is caught accidentally pouring rat poison into Hart's coffee, the women must work together to find dirt on Hart before his wife returns from vacation to find him missing. And while they're at it, "Mr. Hart" signs off on many memos to make life better around the office.
Although the musical had a short-lived run on Broadway, its empowering story is still very relevant today, and McLean Theatre's production of 9 to 5 had the audience on its feet cheering for the women of Consolidated Industries as they stood up to the skeevy Mr. Hart.
Leading the show with incredible chemistry and individual talent were Haley Rose (Violet), Erica Bass (Doralee), and Abby Covington (Judy). Rose made every moment genuine and exhibited excellent character development throughout the show. Under the pressure of playing a character modeled after Dolly Parton herself, Bass rose to the occasion by maintaining a spot-on country accent and bringing her own personal flair to the role of Doralee. Covington demonstrated her impressive vocal talent and commitment to her role, taking the stage in an emotional and raw performance of "Get Out and Stay Out."
The costuming was a stand-out factor of the production, featuring consistent color schemes and period-appropriate garments that fit perfectly with each character, particularly Doralee's pink and preppy ensembles and Violet's red outfits that symbolized her growing strength throughout the show.
Shining in their supportive roles were Benji Harris (Hart) and Abby Comey (Roz). Harris had the confidence and maturity to give such a difficult role one hundred percent of his energy, which contributed to his ability to keep the audience in stitches at his wild physicalizing and satirical portrayal. Comey matched Harris in her talent and commitment to character, bringing her comedic role to life in a stellar performance of "Heart to Hart".
The special effects implemented throughout the show were both creative and realistic. Projection screens framed the stage that displayed scenes of the city skyline which became a new image to denote a fantasy scene or a change in time of day. Combined with an inventive set design, the special effects were a great asset to the technical aspects of the show.
McLean Theatre presented an exciting and truly ambitious production of 9 to 5: The Musical that inspired the audience and showcased their wonderful talent both in cast and crew.