‘9 TO 5’ IS A HOOT!
Clever, funny, inspiring … After setting The Den’s Bookspan Theatre ablaze with their first-ever production of LIZZIE last fall, Firebrand Theatre returns with a rousing production of 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. Firebrand’s Artistic Director Harmony France has assembled a terrific, multi-talented ensemble who double as musicians and just about everything else from office workers to forest creatures. It’s clever, funny, inspiring and what’s more, this ‘9 TO 5’ is a hoot!
The more things change … The high jinks of the Broadway version of this show felt more frivolous musical comedy and less like the 1980 film that energized a movement or the transformational Firebrand edition now playing on North Milwaukee Avenue. It is a story about three women who face personal and professional challenges in the workplace brought about by a despicable, sexist employer. On the way home you will be humming the familiar tunes and thinking that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
A cogent parable … 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL has become a cogent parable for our times and France's insightful approach speaks to the core Firebrand philosophy, that of empowering gender equality on and off the stage. There are clear creative choices throughout -- 'One of the Boys' being a prime example -- that strengthen the overall message of inclusion while at the same time delivering laugh-out-loud entertainment. In the real world, of course, there are severe consequences for kidnapping your boss for a month, so think of it these days as more like musical comedy with the message that working together for change is always the best choice.
Formidable talent … In the role of Doralee, Sharriese Hamilton brings her formidable talent to bear as the assistant who is constantly being pursued by Scott Danielson’s loathsome Mr. Hart. Delivering a dynamic, full-range, performance is Anne Sheridan Smith as Violet, the rising leader of the pack. Judy is played with sensitivity and humor by Sara Reinecke. Once they all start busting up the old boy network, even the distrustful and devious Roz, a role that Veronica Garzas was destined to play, begins to crack. At the end of the day, it is clear that the work world is about to change for the better.
What to watch and wait for … Musical Director Andra Velis Simon has added depth to the Dollie Parton score in familiar tunes like “9 to 5” … “Around Here” …“I Just Might” … “Backwoods Barbie” … “Heart to Hart” … “Shine Like The Sun” … “One of the Boys” … “Get Out And Stay Out”.
The Takeaway … it will take vigilance, many more adjustments of attitude at the top, a fostering of mutual respect, support and understanding, and flexible hours to effect change. When all else fails, a one-way ticket to Bolivia just might do the trick.
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Directed by Artistic Director Harmony France
Music Direction by Andra Velis-Simon
through May 20, 2018
The Den Theatre|Bookspan Theatre
1331 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
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with HARMONY FRANCE