9 to 5: the Musical is sort of a mess. There are awkward moments, the partially projected set looks cheap and it doesn't know how to end...but it works because it's just plain fun. Dolly Parton's songs are a blast - at times very big Broadway-ish, and sometimes fun with country element, and sometimes with a touch of girl power. The minute the vamp started for 9 to 5 at the top of the show, the audience went wild.
The ladies - Megan Hilty as Doralee, Allison Janney as Violet and Stephanie J. Block as Judy - aren't playing the iconic film roles made famous by Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, but are rather playing the film actresses themselves. But I think that's expected and it's fine with me.
Megan is the spitting image of Dolly, in figure (well, almost if you know what I mean) and speaking voice. Her singing voice is a terrific warm alto. Stephanie soars as Judy and it's fun to hear her pure voice in a belt. Allison is the weakest singer, but her voice grew on me and by the second act, I was imagining casting her in a revival of Woman of the Year or even as Vera Charles. She's perfectly ascerbic and it was impossible not to love her.
It was press night and most of the big guns were there - Brantley, Musto, Winer. I also saw a few Tony voters in the crowd - Alice Playten, Robert Callely. The show has already garnered 15 Drama Desk Nominations. I can't help but think that it's partially because it's a slow year for musicals, but maybe the nominators were like me - while it's I didn't think it to be a great show in itself, it's the most fun I've had at a musical since In the Heights and I'd gladly work my way to the box office again. 9 to 5 the Musical opens this Thursday night. I expect it to have a healthy run, based on the wild enthusiasm of the audience at the Marquis.