With a 1970s office (typewriters and all), disco-era clothing to match, oh, and just a few spunky women, 9 to 5 at Runaway Stage Productions has everything. Having never seen the movie and hearing the song “9 to 5” only occasionally on my parents’ oldies station, I had no familiarity with this musical. But within minutes of the show beginning I was transported back in time and instantly began dancing in my seat as I reveled in this story of strength and determination.
9 to 5 tells the story of three particular women attempting to break free from the gender stereotypes placed upon them. Newly divorced and timid Judy Bernly enters the company Consolidated, eager to establish her independence. She soon befriends smart and sassy Violet Newstead and the sweet and cute Doralee Rhodes. What ensues amongst this dynamic trio is a series of mishaps, as the women seek revenge on their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot” of a boss, Franklin Hart, Jr. And through this these women demonstrate they are much more than secretaries and assistants — they’re leaders.
One thing that makes this musical adaptation of female empowerment so fun is the score, written by the talented singer Dolly Parton. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2009, based on the 1980 movie in which Parton starred, gaining itself four Tony Award nominations. And this shining cast certainly upholds that reputation. Andrea St. Clair (Judy) immediately captures your heart with her delicate nature, but blows you away with her powerhouse voice. Ruth Phillips’ (Violet) sharp wit throughout the show makes for more than a few laughs and Cassie March (Doralee), stepping into the role played by Parton in the film, stuns with her sweet yet spicy attitude and Texas flare.
Along with fabulous performances from the entire cast is Ms. Parton herself narrating from a projection above the stage, bringing the whole show together. So if you want to catch some of those fantastic Dolly Parton lyrics, some dancing, a few gun stand-offs, and strong women who have just about had it, then don’t miss 9 to 5.
You can see 9 to 5 at 24th Street Theatre (at the Sierra 2 Center) through January 27, playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets, purchase online or call (916) 207-1266. Also be sure to catch Runaway Stage’s next show at 24th Street Theatre, Avenue Q, playing March 1-March 31.