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9 to 5 the Musical
Albuquerque Little Theatre

9 to 5
Stevie Nichols, Carolyn Hogan, Art Tedesco and Tahirih Garcia
The movie 9 to 5 had quite an impact when it arrived in 1980. The idea of getting revenge on a sexist, misogynist boss grabbed moviegoers in much the same way Thelma and Louise did a decade later. Yet, 1980 is a world away when it comes to women in the workplace now. Watching 9 to 5 the Musical at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, I was surprised by how much things really have changed in the last three decades.

Interestingly, part of the charm of this production is how well the musical stays true to its 1980 roots. Thanks goodness the story didn't get a present-day makeover.

The musical adds more than a dozen song and dance numbers to the story. The movie showcased one song, "9 to 5", by Dolly Parton. Parton also starred in the movie (her first starring role) with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Parton wrote all of the new songs, and Patricia Resnick, one of the movie's original co-writers, filled out the book. The musical started with tryouts in Los Angeles in 2007 and hit Broadway in 2009, receiving a fistful of award nominations, including four Tony Award noms. It closed after 144 performances, then headed out on a national tour.

The musical follows the core story of the movie. Violet, Doralee and Judy work under the oppressive leadership of company CEO, Franklin Hart, Jr. In trying to stand up for themselves under the domination of the cartoon-like monster of a boss, the trio end up kidnapping him and taking over the company. They prove they can run the company more efficiently and productively by addressing the needs of the staff and offering encouraging support.

Not surprisingly, the new songs by Parton are a strong point of the musical. Telling stories through song has been a Parton strength going back decades to songs like "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," and "I Will Always Love You," her goodbye wish to former musical partner Porter Wagner that became Whitney Houston's signature song. The individual songs from the musical don't reach the level of Parton's classics, but taken together, they provide a robust and colorful display, giving 9 to 5 the Musical plenty of punch and fun.

The Albuquerque Little Theatre delivers an energetic and consistently strong production. Director Henry Avery has put together a strong cast centered on the key three women: Carolyn Hogan as Violet, Tahirih Garcia in the Dolly Parton role of Doralee, and Stevie Nichols as Judy. Art Tedesco rounds out the core cast as the impossible boss, Franklin. Other highlights in the cast include Cody K. Wesner-Ellis as Roz Keith, the boss's suck up, and Ross Shaw as Violet's love interest, Joe. The ensemble also does a fine job with both song and dance.

Choreographer Larry Joseph Aguilar, coming off a strong job of acting, singing, and choreography in Singing in the Rain, comes through with another excellent presentation. Also, kudos to costume designer Joe Moncada who has dressed the production in bright primary colors. The staging is terrific throughout.

Oddly, the only weakness in the production is the audio of the intro and closing narrations by Dolly Parton. While the narrations only last a few short minutes, each one is very difficult to understand. All of the other audio in the production is very clear.

9 to 5 the Musical, with music and lyrics and Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, is directed by Henry Avery. The production runs at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through November 11. Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. There is also a Thursday performance on November 1 at 8:00. General admission for adults at regular performances is $24, $21 for seniors (62 and above), $18 for students, and $12 for kids under 13. The show is rated PG, and is not recommended for children under the age of 3.

For reservations, call 242-4750, ex. 2, or purchase at the Theatre's website: albuquerquelittletheatre.org.


Photo: Bonny Holder

--Rob Spiegel



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