By Stephanie Ottey
The actors and crew at the New Castle Playhouse may not keep the exact hours, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard to showcase “9 to 5” right now.
“9 to 5” the stage musical is virtually the same as the famous Dolly Parton film of the same title, though it was produced nearly 30 years after the movie’s release in 1980. It introduces Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly, and Doralee “Double-D” Rhodes: three overworked and underpaid gals who are stuck with a super-sexist boss. As the ladies struggle with their own personal problems, they find a kinship in their suffering that leads them to take dramatic and creative measures to fix the unifying problem in their lives.
The stage show features the catchy “9 to 5” theme song and a string of new tunes with words and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Some, such as “Backwoods Barbie” and “Let Love Grow” have a distinctly Dolly flavor, while others, such as “Shine Like the Sun” have a more contemporary Broadway sound.
Music Director Mylinda Beatty creates a clear style for each number, and her orchestral sound is well-rounded.
Adapted by Patricia Resnick, the musical maintains the same humor that can be found in the movie: Sexual innuendo abounds as do exaggerated bit characters. Add a bit of crime, and this makes for a quick-paced show that is a simple, good time.
This production, directed by Brent Rodgers, has the potential to be a high- energy show, but hosts a sense of hesitation on opening night that creates discord. Dancers shoot quick sideways glances to one another to double-check steps revealing a lack of confidence in choreo-graphy, microphone cues are missed, and in Act 2, one actor is obviously delayed in making an entrance.
Thankfully, Janis Marie, appearing as the endear- ingly uptight Roz Keith, steps in to save the scene with some quick improvising. These are minor problems, however, and surely will be erased before other audiences have the chance to see them.
A trio of commanding ladies stands at the center of the show.
Cynthia Harding plays the central Violet Newstead with an assurance that shows she understands her character. She appears proud, making it easy to cheer for her, and is a nice contrast to her two bubbly co-stars.
Rodgers would have been hard-pressed to find an actress more suited to play Doralee Rhodes than Dawn Savage. Savage not only has a voice to match that of Dolly Parton, who played the role originally, but she shares Parton’s knack for spunky comedic timing as well. She’s a knockout in the part, and audiences should be excited to see more from her.
Mary Ann Mangini creat a timid and sweet Judy Bernly to nicely round out the trio. Although Mangini is plagued by a muffled microphone, it’s obvious that she has great vocal talent. Her character development is believeable and effective.
The whole cast is vocally strong, and once those pesky kinks are worked out, “9 to 5” will be a fun way to end the work week.
“9 to 5” runs in the New Castle Playhouse’s Augustine Auditorium through May 12. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. For more information, call 724-654-3437.