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Classic tongue-in-cheekiness: 9 to 5: The Musical

Well-timed factoids and witty retorts at San Diego Music Theatre

Karyn Overstreet as Doralee, Joy Yandell as Violet, and Allison Spratt Pearce as Judy in 9 to 5: the Musical
Karyn Overstreet as Doralee, Joy Yandell as Violet, and Allison Spratt Pearce as Judy in 9 to 5: the Musical

San Diego Music Theatre works hard in 9 to 5: The Musical to highlight inequities between men and women in a 1980s workplace. Through well-timed factoids and witty retorts, this musical remake of the classic comic film promotes female empowerment through tongue-in-cheek circumstances and toe-tapping songs by Dolly Parton.

9 to 5: The Musical

Set in corporate offices of Consolidated Industries, the story follows three women: Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly, and Doralee Rhodes. Newly divorced and on her own to make a living for the first time, Judy begins a job at Consolidated. Violet trains new hires, and takes Judy under her wing.

Meanwhile, Doralee works as secretary to the CEO, the philandering Mr. Franklin Hart, Jr. After a series of demeaning events by Hart on each of them, the three ladies end up forcibly removing Hart and secretly take over running the company in his absence. An absurd scenario ensues in which death threats, kidnappings, and fraud are forgiven through happy circumstances, as only comedy or musical theater can allow.

Joy Yandell embodies the epitome of a modern working woman with her Violet. Strutting and dancing in shoulder pads and pantsuits, her swagger and grounded confidence harkens to Lily Tomlin’s original Violet without seeming like a copy. Though at times her lower register lacks enough power to be heard over the chorus, her comic timing and dynamic speeches command attention and drive the message home.

Karyn Overstreet steals the show as Doralee, the buxom blonde secretary character originated by Dolly Parton. She channels the feisty energy and humor of Ms. Parton for her Doralee, while inserting her own unique and powerful singing voice to the character. All of Overstreet’s songs charm and impress.

Allison Spratt Pearce beautifully captures the emotional complexity of newly divorced Judy without losing her humor. Pearce’s vocal delivery follows the arc of the character, growing in strength as Judy gains confidence in her independence. Her rendition of the song “Get Out and Stay Out” particularly impresses with its power and clarity.

David S. Humphrey provides the right amount of sleaze and swagger for the problematic Mr. Hart. Candi Milo makes a comical appearance as domineering Roz Keith, assistant to Hart. Her sexually charged advances on her boss, including an entire number about her desires for him, humorously punctuate the performance.

The scenic design by Robert Andrew Kovatch utilizes the entire space beautifully. The set artfully transitions from sprawling office floor with multiple workstations to an elevator lobby to homes. Projections at the rear provide shifts to the background that keep the stage picture visually interesting, even when otherwise cleared for big dance numbers. Janet Pitcher’s costumes sit solidly in this decade, and wigs by Danielle Griffith add necessary curls and volume to everyone’s hair.

Director Cynthia Ferrer successfully brings the corporate world of 1980s to life, along with choreography by Tamilyn Shusterman. Though at times the sound lacks balance, the feminist storyline comes across loud and clear, slapping the audience with the reality that not much has improved for women in the workforce.

Playing through February 26

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Karyn Overstreet as Doralee, Joy Yandell as Violet, and Allison Spratt Pearce as Judy in 9 to 5: the Musical
Karyn Overstreet as Doralee, Joy Yandell as Violet, and Allison Spratt Pearce as Judy in 9 to 5: the Musical

San Diego Music Theatre works hard in 9 to 5: The Musical to highlight inequities between men and women in a 1980s workplace. Through well-timed factoids and witty retorts, this musical remake of the classic comic film promotes female empowerment through tongue-in-cheek circumstances and toe-tapping songs by Dolly Parton.

9 to 5: The Musical

Set in corporate offices of Consolidated Industries, the story follows three women: Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly, and Doralee Rhodes. Newly divorced and on her own to make a living for the first time, Judy begins a job at Consolidated. Violet trains new hires, and takes Judy under her wing.

Meanwhile, Doralee works as secretary to the CEO, the philandering Mr. Franklin Hart, Jr. After a series of demeaning events by Hart on each of them, the three ladies end up forcibly removing Hart and secretly take over running the company in his absence. An absurd scenario ensues in which death threats, kidnappings, and fraud are forgiven through happy circumstances, as only comedy or musical theater can allow.

Joy Yandell embodies the epitome of a modern working woman with her Violet. Strutting and dancing in shoulder pads and pantsuits, her swagger and grounded confidence harkens to Lily Tomlin’s original Violet without seeming like a copy. Though at times her lower register lacks enough power to be heard over the chorus, her comic timing and dynamic speeches command attention and drive the message home.

Karyn Overstreet steals the show as Doralee, the buxom blonde secretary character originated by Dolly Parton. She channels the feisty energy and humor of Ms. Parton for her Doralee, while inserting her own unique and powerful singing voice to the character. All of Overstreet’s songs charm and impress.

Allison Spratt Pearce beautifully captures the emotional complexity of newly divorced Judy without losing her humor. Pearce’s vocal delivery follows the arc of the character, growing in strength as Judy gains confidence in her independence. Her rendition of the song “Get Out and Stay Out” particularly impresses with its power and clarity.

David S. Humphrey provides the right amount of sleaze and swagger for the problematic Mr. Hart. Candi Milo makes a comical appearance as domineering Roz Keith, assistant to Hart. Her sexually charged advances on her boss, including an entire number about her desires for him, humorously punctuate the performance.

The scenic design by Robert Andrew Kovatch utilizes the entire space beautifully. The set artfully transitions from sprawling office floor with multiple workstations to an elevator lobby to homes. Projections at the rear provide shifts to the background that keep the stage picture visually interesting, even when otherwise cleared for big dance numbers. Janet Pitcher’s costumes sit solidly in this decade, and wigs by Danielle Griffith add necessary curls and volume to everyone’s hair.

Director Cynthia Ferrer successfully brings the corporate world of 1980s to life, along with choreography by Tamilyn Shusterman. Though at times the sound lacks balance, the feminist storyline comes across loud and clear, slapping the audience with the reality that not much has improved for women in the workforce.

Playing through February 26

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