St. Paul VI Catholic High School
Though the characters may have "tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen", the cast and crew at Westfield High School poured themselves a cup of well-earned ambition in their production of 9 to 5: The Musical.
9 to 5 is a 2008 musical sharing its title and based on the film from 1980. With lyrics and music by country music icon Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, 9 to 5 remains an empowering musical for the "little guy". The story revolves around three distinct women, single mom Violet, southern belle Doralee, and newby Judy Bernly. They work in an office, working for a sexist bigot of a boss, Mr. Franklin Hart. Along the way, the heroines revamp and improve their office, dabble in kidnapping, and learn how to be powerful women who will make their previously hushed voices heard.
Showcasing lively confidence and emotional vulnerability, Julia Manser as Violet delivered an honest and vibrant performance. Alongside was Kaitlyn Long as Texas-born Doralee. Long's melodious vocals and sweet southern accent would have made Dolly herself proud, especially in "Backwoods Barbie" and "Cowgirl's Revenge". Rounding out the trio, Elli Vlattas as Judy displayed the character's journey of self-discovery and assurance with a marvelous emotional and vocal range, all coming together in the power ballad "Get Out and Stay Out". The three of them established the energy in the show and showcased their skills together in "9 to 5" and "Change It".
Playing the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot", Mr. Franklin Hart Jr. was Elias Collier. Collier embraced the role brilliantly, confidently singing and dancing through the main trio's dream sequence where they imagined how to treat him if the tables were turned.
The office ensemble only enhanced the production further. Isabel Nemati as the wild Roz Keith was exuberant and flashy in a comical rendition of "Heart to Hart". Justin Short as Joe, created the perfect yin to Violet's uptight yang. The office ladies as a whole were a powerful unit, contributing to the themes of feminism throughout.
Costumes by Isabel Nemati and Emily Miller were dazzling and versatile. They created tear away pieces to change costumes on-stage, as well as perfectly executed a number of impressive off-stage quick changes. Choreography created by Teresa Seraphin, Annabelle Dubard, and Madeline Mezynski was both creative and engaging. They highlighted both the fun and more dramatic themes of the show impressively. The props by Kate Funk, Graci Vlattas, Nevaeh Hampton, and Ridah Mahjabeen spectacularly helped to establish the time period and office setting. Most notably, they built a Xerox machine which spit papers out, as well as groceries, and many papers.
Revolving around the theme of female empowerment, 9 to 5: The Musical at Westfield High School dazzled the audience through their devoted tribute to the women who worked from 9 to 5 and revolutionized the workplace.
Katia A. Schineller
Osbourn Park High School
Whether working hard or hardly working, Westfield Theatre's production of 9 to 5 The Musical is worth the overtime. The Dolly Parton musical follows three secretaries as they unwittingly take their corrupt boss captive in order to enact change in their oppressive office. With a distinct country flair, 9 to 5 is a touching yet comedic experience.
The musical performances throughout the show were of the highest quality, one standout being "I Just Might". Supported by a strong ensemble, Julia Manser as Violet, Kaitlyn Long as Doralee, and Elli Vlattas as Judy all offered impeccable vocal performances during this number. In particular, Vlattas did an astute job balancing the emotional arc of Judy with a demanding score as she won the hearts of the audience. The drama of the show was balanced by a set of eye-catching comedic performances. Elias Collier as Mr. Hart and Isabel Nemati as Roz both did a splendid job cutting through the commentary of the show with quick wits and compelling personas. Nemati's "Heart to Hart" was a highlight of the show. Nemati's eccentric portrayal did not stop at solos, throughout the show Nemati embodied the character of Roz with a distinct walk and voice.
"Heart to Hart" was further enhanced by the strong technical elements. Lighting by Damien McDonald, Nathan Brogdon, Aidan Petrinjak, and Rain Johnson accentuated the dynamic performance through the use of rose projections and pink lights. The tech also shone through the costume work of Isabel Nemati, Emily Miller, and their team. There were a variety of impressive quick changes from caricatures of Mr. Hart to woodland creatures. In particular Violet's quick change in "One of the Boys" was sparkly and stunning as in a matter of seconds Manser's Violet goes from a secretarial dress to a glittery suit. Aside from a spectacular show night, the preparation for the performance was also essential to the success of the production. Kayla Gadley, Elli Vlattas, and Justin Pokrant's marketing team did a fabulous job preparing their community for 9 to 5. Through spirit week and a consistent social media presence the group created excitement and intrigue for what was to come on opening night.
Overall 9 to 5 was a strong showing of what Westfield Theatre has to offer. With powerful performers and rock-solid tech, Westfield's 9 to 5 was a show worth seeing and certainly more than a way to make a living.