Wednesday, April 29, 2009

9 to 5 works

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.


Steven H. said...

OMG, what a great idea! Allison Janney in Woman of the Year! I'd definitely line up to see that.

Bob said...

I love that you italicized Vera Charles, as if she's her own show.

Glad you liked it, with reservations. It seems fun! I hope it tours. Hilty seems like an up-and-comer, doesn't she?

Sarah B. Roberts said...

When Megan was in Wicked, I went to the stage door specifically to see George Hearn. She asked me if I had something for her to sign and I told her no, that I was there for George. She told me that George wasn't there that night and I thought she was going to start crying. She was so sweet. At the Katrina Benefit Concert, she sang The Alto's Lament and brought the house down. I think she's just great. She's definitely distinguishable from the other blonde Broadway girls in her age group.

Kevin Daly said...

"Oh, I can't tell you what a thrill it is to be part of this tribute to the wonderful Jerry Herman. You may remember that my very first starring role was in Jerry's Broadway Musical 'Vera.' Oh, oh. No wait, wait, no, that's right. No, it wasn't called 'Vera.' No, nothing could rhyme with Vera, Jerry said.

Sondheim could've rhymed it..."

Bea Arthur in "Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl"

There's something about Dolly where it's as though you want nothing but success for her. That's why I want to see "9 to 5" to have fun regardless of whether or not it's a good show.

chelsea said...

Kevin makes a great point. Dolly comes off as such a good and genuine person that you want success and happiness for her and her endeavors. And the fact that it was the most fun you've had since "In the Heights," doesn't that say something about it in some way? A little fun is good from time to time.

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Oh there's nothing wrong with having fun - that's the main point...and obvs Dolly does pretty well as it is...but when you're paying that much money to see 2 hours of show, it better be great, not just fun.

I'm starting to think that when it comes to the shows I've seen that are Mantello-directed, it's not the material, it's the direction that's a mess.

Robin said...

Allison J. reminded me of Woman of the Year, too -- with her big number so similar, it would be hard to miss. My thoughts were very similar to yours -- the show's got problems, but it's enjoyable anyway thanks to a bouncy score and strong performances. Several of the songs are just filler quality, and there are dramatic problems they never worked out. Megan is the star of this to me, but the entire cast sells this show. Marc Kudisch vs. Christopher Sieber for the "featured" Tony?

Xtine said...

You are definitely correct in what you say about the staging and set and whatnot; but I don't remember the last time I had that much fun throughout an entire Broadway show.

So much so that it was easy to look beyond the tiny imperfections.

It has most certainly been a strong season for Plays, and I think Awards time will reflect that. I think I've seen more plays this season than I have in my entire life (well, maybe not ;) but it feels like that). In fact, I think the only new musicals I have seen this season besides "9 to 5" were "Happiness" and "Shrek."
I have heard amazing things about "Next to Normal," so I will need to see that for sure.