Thursday, September 18, 2008

9 to 5; 8 to 10:45 PM

Peleg and I went with two of our friends to see the new Dolly Parton musical version of the 1979 movie "9 to 5" now playing at the Ahmanson theater in Los Angeles. The movie version starred Jane Fonda, who had the original idea, with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. Now Parton has teamed up with the original story writer, Patricia Resnick, to create the musical. The book draws heavily from the screenplay, which is appropriate and welcome. Parton wrote the score, and her presence dominates, but she doesn't appear.

It's a great show, with Parton's music being probably the weakest part of the mix, but completely up to the task. The song "9 to 5" starts the show and keeps re-appearing in different versions with different lyrics throughout. The performances were excellent, particularly Megan Hilty in the Dolly Parton role and imitating her down to the hitch in her get-a-long. She also gets one of the best songs, "Backwoods Barbie" which will undoubtedly be a staple of drag shows for the next thirty years. Allison Janney, in the Lily Tomlin role, is not much of a singer, but these aren't gorgeous songs that demand great singing, and Janney serves the character very well. The production is excellent: beautiful, versatile sets, that give just enough realism without overwhelming, and great use of a video wall that fills the back of the stage and presents suitable backdrops for the various scenes and light shows during the big production numbers. I especially enjoyed the choreography which is seamlessly employed throughout. I constantly had the sense that I was simply watching a busy office, but wait, "why is that guy doing a kick turn off the corner of the desk?" It was brilliant.

Stephanie Block plays Judy, the Jane Fonda character. A delicious Marc Kudisch is the sexist, power-hungry (and secretary-hungry) boss. It's easy to see both why the main characters all despise him, and why the sycophant office manager Ross pines for him. Her lament of the hours she isn't at the office, "5 to 9" was especially witty.

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