Friday, May 29, 2009

9 to 5: The Musical

Photo: Craig Schwartz

Dolly Parton's lyrics don't rhyme. Alison Janney can't sing. The overly-electronic sound eliminates any sense of actual humans playing instruments in the pit. The book is uneven, dated, and frequently dumb. Lisa Howard, Ann Harada, and Maia Nkenge Wilson are sinfully underutilized. There are moments that are downright embarrassing.

I had a great time.

Dolly Parton's score bounces along with energy and humor. Alison Janney can act and dance and is incredibly likeable. Megan Hilty combines great timing, a wonderful voice, and star power as she both imitates Dolly Parton and somehow manages to play a real person (Hilty should have gotten the Tony nom, rather than Janney). Stephanie Block's evolution from blushing and fearful to brave and happy is beautifully calibrated, and she sings the hell out of the 11:00 number, "Get Out and Stay Out." The book has some very funny moments, and its message of girl-bonding and humanity in the workplace touched me despite the flimsiness of the show, probably because Janney, Hilty, and Block give their characters full human dimensions. Marc Kudish is great fun, and his ability to flex one pec at a time is certainly unique! (Do you suppose he mentions it on his resume?) The choreography is energetic and entertaining, and it was great to see so many people on stage.

9 to 5 is a B- musical that manages to deliver an A- level of entertainment.

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