Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

9 to 5 the Musical
Porthouse Theatre
Review by Mark Horning

Also see Mark's review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Courtney Elizabeth Brown, Amy Fritsche,
and Erin Diroll

Photo by Paul Silla
There is something comforting about an evening spent attending a Porthouse Theatre production, located on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. Audience members arrive an hour or two early to picnic on the spacious grounds surrounding the open air theater. There are two pavilions as well as numerous picnic tables where people can gather and have an elegant supper. Children play in the fields and parents get caught up on each other's lives. It is a theatrical experience like no other in the Northeast Ohio area.

Their productions are top notch presentations of familiar Broadway and Off-Broadway shows that combine members of Actors' Equity with students from the Kent State University School of Fine Arts. Currently on stage is 9 to 5 the Musical directed by Terri Kent. The musical is based on the 1980 film, which featured songs by Dolly Parton and starred Dolly along with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Three underlings of Consolidated Industries are suffering (along with the rest of the branch) under the thumb of their sexist, egotistical and uncaring boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (Fabio Polanco). Pushed to their limits, the trio, Judy Bernly (Courtney Brown), Doralee Rhodes (Erin Diroll) and Violet Newstead (Amy Fritsche), kidnap their boss while turning the entire office upside down with new programs geared toward making the company a great place to work. In order to fight off the impending legal problems (once Hart eventually gets back to the office), they have three weeks to link Franklin to his cooked books. Standing in their way is Hart's zealous assistant Roz Keith (Sandra Emerick) who needs to be made to disappear as well.

The just over two hour production is chock full of music and dance that is done surprisingly well. Of special note is Sandra Emerick as Roz; her rendition of Heart to Hart steals the show as she pours out her love for her clueless boss. The trio of fantasy songs, Dance of Death, The Cowgirl's Revenge and Potion Notion, are also exceptional in their execution.

Although the set is a bit less detailed than past Porthouse productions, it does manage to convey the feeling of an office environment. The scene changes are quick and seamless by the members of the ensemble and principals. Lighting is sufficient but at times overbearing to audience members. Of high importance is the 12-piece orchestra that is well up to task for the variety of musical styles presented in the show. With everyone miked, the sound is sharp and clear.

Pack a picnic dinner, a good bottle of chilled wine, and some soda for the children and spend an enjoyable summer evening under the stars as your cares melt away. This Porthouse Theatre production is a delightful summer break from the pressure and hubbub of life, and a great way to introduce your young family to live theater.

The Porthouse Theatre production of 9 to 5 the Musical will be on stage at Blossom Music Center, 1145 W Steels Corners Rd, Cuyahoga Falls, through July 1, 2017. Tickets may be purchased online by going to or by calling (330) 672-3884.

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