St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
Sometimes, we all could use a little change. In the case of Rock Ridge High School's "9 to 5", change is just what Violet, Doralee, and Judy need, and the three women will go to wild, comedic, and serious lengths to make that happen.
Based on the 1980 movie, "9 to 5" premiered in Los Angeles in September of 2008 before moving to Broadway in April of 2009. With music and lyrics by the beloved Dolly Parton, as well as a book by Patricia Resnick, this musical garnered a whopping 15 Drama Desk Awards, as well as four Tony nominations, before closing in September of 2009. Shortly after its Broadway run, the show soon toured nationally, and abroad in the U.K.
There is no doubt about it - "9 to 5" is a beast of a show. Not only is it jam-packed with choreography and tight harmonies, but many numbers require the cast, including leads, to overlay singing and dancing without losing an ounce of character. In addition, some of the show's rather raunchy scenes require an incredibly amount of commitment. To the students of Rock Ridge High School, however, this challenge seemed to be no more than a day's work. With unfaltering energy, focus, and commitment, these students charged full-force at the material, proving their incredible capabilities.
At the center of this feminist comedy are three utterly fed-up women: Violet Newstead, Doralee Rhodes, and Judy Bernly, played respectively by Lauren Janoschka, Megan Buss, and Katie Howard. Together, the three embodied the sense of sisterhood and strength that carries this show, working off each other for stellar comedic timing, character development, and vocal blend. Each had distinct and focused character choices, backed by powerful voices and exceptional dancing. In the number "One of the Boys", Janoschka exhibited her skills, executing a number full of spunk and charisma while never missing a dance step or seeming out of breath. Buss, portraying the constantly underestimated Doralee, shone in "Backwoods Barbie", giving her character heart and intelligence with a sweet country voice and a spot-on accent. Meanwhile, Howard's soulful vocals, impressive range, and thoughtful character came through in her triumphant rendition of "Get Out and Stay Out."
Other notable performances came from actors such as Farley McDaniel, playing the detestable Franklin Hart, Jr., and Nico Zavala, the lovable and soft-spoken Joe. Unrestrained and unapologetic, McDaniel expertly portrayed Hart's sleazy greediness, throwing himself into the role with impeccable comedic timing and understanding of physical comedy. In complete contrast, Zavala's sweet and caring portrayal of Joe was matched by his graceful movement and melodic voice.
In truth, there are more noteworthy aspects of this show than can be fit into one short review. In addition to the performances of leads and supporting actors, the ensemble was indispensable, bringing every scene to life with stunning and cohesive choreography written entirely by Savannah Sides, consistent vocal power, and fully-developed characters. The technological aspects were equally impressive, with symbolism worked into every detail of costuming, lighting, set, and more. No touch, no detail, no matter how small, was missed.
In this stunning production of "9 to 5", the all-around commitment of everyone involved, whether onstage or offstage, made this show all that it was: hilarious, heartfelt, rousing, and triumphant.
McLean High School
Kidnap the boss, tie him up, clean up the evidence, and take over his office: sounds like a typical day at work! Joy to the girls as they serve justice at Rock Ridge High School's production of "9 to 5!"
"9 to 5: the Musical" is based on the 1980 movie of the same name, starring Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda. The lively music and lyrics are written by Dolly Parton with a hilarious book by Patricia Resnick. Opening on Broadway in 2009 to critical acclaim, the musical comedy received both Drama Desk and Tony nominations. Set in the late 1970s, the show follows three strong-willed women and their misogynistic boss as they navigate the harsh reality of what it's like to work in a "man's world." This empowering show celebrates women's fight for equality and is especially appropriate in the era of the #MeToo movement, which raised awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace.
The resolute and independent Violet Newstead was portrayed by grounded Lauren Janoschka. Janoschka's leadership qualities, impressive vocals, and witty comebacks demonstrated a professional ability far beyond her years. Megan Buss stood out in the trio for her role as the sweet, but misunderstood Doralee who wants to be recognized for more than just her good looks. Buss's consistent southern accent was complemented by her lovely soprano voice. Katie Howard as Judy Bernly also handled challenging vocal numbers with finesse and gave a raw performance with emotional maturity. Her show stopping number "Get Out and Stay Out," showed off Howard's extensive range and belt. The three women worked well together, creating an entertaining and heartfelt dynamic.
A host of talented supporting and ensemble actors added to the spirit of the show. The "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss was played by Farley McDaniel, who mastered the creepy and derogatory nature of Mr. Hart. McDaniel put on an unbelievably comical performance with his hilarious facials and body movement during "Here for You." The backbone of the show, the entire ensemble, met the demanding musical numbers with unwavering energy and commitment. The cast was full of immensely talented dancers, evident when they tackled a variety of solos and dance styles. Every soloist merited cheers from the audience as they successfully distracted from the transitions going on behind them.
Technical elements helped bring "9 to 5" to life, and many components came together to put on a visually striking production. Particularly exceptional was the professional caliber of the lighting and the set. The ambitious lighting design included unforgettable silhouettes that added an surreal quality to the show. Additionally, lighting cues were always well timed and spot on their marks. A revolving turntable completed the grandiose set, exhibiting the technical difficulty taken on the the scenic designer and set construction. Period costumes enhanced the production with persistent color schemes for many of the main characters that highlighted the 70s aesthetic. There were no mistakes with the 100 costume changes, which were handled with efficiency and experience.
Woven into the show is a message of female strength. Rock Ridge High School's production of "9 to 5" reminds us that no matter how women are treated, they will always have the power to stand up against indecency and fight for what is right.