Review: ‘9 to 5: The Musical’

Review: ‘9 to 5: The Musical’

The red carpet was out for the first stop on the national tour of “9 to 5: The Musical” at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Sept. 21. Photographers with professional cameras around their necks clicked shutters as the crowd arrived. Channel 2 and 4 correspondents were ready with 100-watt smiles and black no-nonsense clothing, gripping microphones and going on about the upcoming excitement. Fans lined the side of the street opposite the TPAC entrance, expectant faces and digital point-and-shoot cameras ready. They’d heard that Dolly Parton, Naomi Judd, Bo Bice and other stars would show up. The first jet-black stretch limo pulled up. Then another and another.

“9 to 5” was adapted from the 1980s film of the same name. Parton starred in the movie and wrote the music and lyrics for the musical that ran on Broadway from Septmber 2008 to Septmber 2009. Patricia Resnick formed the concept of the story and wrote the musical.

The story is about three women trying to make it in a man’s world. They are Judy Bernly, a recent divorcee who just can’t seem to get over her divorce; Violet Newstead, a widow raising her 17-year-old son alone; and Doralee Rhodes, a blonde bombshell who has been unfairly classified as the office hussy.

Mr. Hart, their heartless boss, runs his office like a sweatshop. The women want revenge and eventually get him sent far away from the office. The musical deals with sexism and feminism in the late ’70s.

Dee Hoty, who portrayed Violet, was exceptional as a widow who was strong and independent. When office sweetheart, Joe, was sweet on her, she held her ground. Under her hard surface, it was evident she desperately wanted to be loved. Hoty was sarcastic and a firecracker as she stomped around stage, commanding attention and respect even though her title still read “secretary.”

Mamie Parris, as Judy, was sweet, quirky and funny. She first comes as off as skittish and uncertain, but she comes to find her value. When her ex-husband tries to win her back, she resists with her freedom song, “Get Out and Stay Out.”

Dianna DeGarmo, runner-up of “American Idol Season 6,” played the Parton role of Doralee with big hair, strut and booming voice. Her performance of “Backwoods Barbie” was heartwarming. She comes off as a blonde bimbo, but deep down she has a heart of gold and a good head on her shoulders.

Dolly Parton could definitely be seen in all her songs. There are songs about the hard-working man and the even-harder-working woman; songs about appreciating a woman’s brains then objectifying her body; songs of independence and freedom. The songs are foot-tapping and fun, catchy and strong. They are definitely songs to be remembered.

The final curtain closed as the audience whooped and hollered, giving a standing ovation. The stellar night was not yet complete, though; before the cheering stopped, Dolly Parton came on stage to a raucous welcome and graciously thanked the audience for a wonderful evening.


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