A Night at the Theatre: Forestburgh’s ‘9 to 5, the Musical' What a way to make a living!
July 7, 2013 —
Ok, so here’s the deal. I’m not a huge fan of musical adaptations to begin with. While there are exceptions to every rule, (think “La Cage Aux Folles” or “The Producers”) there is an endless lists of Broadway shows with a hit song attached (think “Fame” or “Footloose”) that struggle. Each year, the management at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP) asks the audience to suggest what shows they would like to see in the future and “9 to 5” received an overwhelming response. In an effort to please (give the people what they want) “9 to 5” is now playing.
Based on the 1980 smash-hit film of the same name (not a musical), it was turned into one with music and lyrics by living legend and film star Dolly Parton. The show premiered in L.A. in 2008.
Personally, I think a non-musical stage play based on the film might have worked better and Broadway audiences apparently agreed, since the show opened in New York in April of 2009, and closed its doors after 148 performances.
I had high expectations because the FBP has a reputation for taking lesser-known productions and really making them work in the jewel box theatre known as the “Miracle in the Forest,” but this time out... not so much. On the plus side, there is good news. Without very strong performances from the three leading ladies, there would have been serious trouble, but Kami Seymour, (Violet) Lauren Chapman, (Doralee) and Jessica Wagner (Judy) worked overtime to elevate the show with great voices, impeccable timing and acting chops that (quite frankly) deserve better material with which to showcase their skills.
The plot remains the same: the three ladies, in an effort to put macho-pig-boss Franklin Hart in his place, abduct him, hog-tie him and string him up while they take over the office and streamline the work place, with a “hit-them-over-the-head” nod to women’s lib, which by 1980 was already a little late. Kevin Confoy (as Hart) is someone I generally love watching perform, but his cartoonish, overblown and mugging interpretation of the boss didn’t work for me and it seemed like he was phoning this one in, aided and abetted by another hammy interpretation of his partner-in-crime assistant Roz (Emma C. Martin). In an effort to make a musical out of the story, Parton has peppered the show with unnecessary tunes and I could have lived without either of the numbers that Martin performed.