After reading one particularly negative review for the musical version of 9 To 5, I was girding myself for the worst when stepping inside Broadway’s Marquis Theatre.
Instead, not since taking in another underappreciated tuner — Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — that was equally drubbed by the very same critic, have I laughed so heavily from my gut.
Ironically, Dolly Parton’s original film lyrics sum up my thoughts on that particular critical response:
It’s all takin’
And no givin’
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it.
Frankly, I’m stunned by how much I enjoyed this show after reading that initial review. It’s not rocket science or deeply penetrating. But what director Joe Mantello has clearly labored long and hard to create is highly and consistently entertaining. 9 To 5 is exceedingly fun and funny, as well as very loyal to the 1980 film, thanks largely to librettist Patricia Resnick revising her original screenplay. More significantly, Dolly Parton has delivered one of this season’s most melodic scores, with plenty of tunes to keep you humming long after departing the theatre.
9 To 5 also rates as a fabulous star vehicle for its tremendous trio of leading ladies: Allison Janney as the wisecracking Violet Newstead, Stephanie J. Block as conservative Judy Bernly and Megan Hilty as the curvaceous Doralee Rhodes. Each has her moment to shine, and each does so splendidly. With solid support from Marc Kudisch as bossman Franklin Hart, Jr. and Kathy Fitzgerald as Roz, there’s no shortcoming in 9 To 5’s talent department.
If escape is what you’re looking for, you’d be hard pressed not to revel in 9 To 5’s frivolity.
Oh, and by the way, that critic I was talking about above? He returned to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels one year later and his re-review would have had you believing he saw a completely different show (i.e. he liked it the second time around). After viewing 9 To 5, you would think that this musical would deserve a better promotion. I know I do.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).