‘9 to 5: the Musical’ at the Walnut Street Theatre

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

If you happen to be a reader of a certain age, you will remember Women’s Liberation, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the impact made by Gloria Steinem and “Ms.” Magazine.  It is this struggle from those turbulent times which comes to light in “9 to 5: the Musical,” now playing at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia until October 19.


Amid this celebration of feminism and heterosexuality, there appears a few welcome moments of sexual questioning. There is the close female bonding among the three principal women, who get very touchy-feely during their marijuana party. Lesbianism, bondage, and morning wood are also displayed to the delight of many. “9 to 5: the Musical” is no dry history lesson, but breezy, good-natured fun.


Dolly Parton wrote the lyrics and music, while Patricia Resnick wrote the book. Known to most of us as a sassy, down-home country girl (an image she has worked very hard to cultivate), Ms. Parton has won seven Grammy Awards, with another forty-two Grammy nominations. Among her many honors, are the CMA’s (The Country Music Association’s) “Entertainer of the Year,” and many other awards from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association. Patricia Resnick wrote the film version of “9 to 5” and the play’s book, in addition to writing films for director Robert Altman. Patricia Resnick has worked on other projects with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin.


Director Bruce Lumpkin has worked with Tommy Tune.  He has had successes with such productions as ‘My One and Only,” “Dodsworth,” “In the Heights,” and many others.  Choreographer Michelle Gaudette has created movement for many productions, including “In the Heights,” “Grand Night for Singing,” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” among others. Other Walnut Street regulars include Douglass G. Lutz, Music and Vocal Direction, Robert Andrew Kovach, Scenic Design, Paul Black, Lighting Design, and Colleen Grady, Costume Design.


A large musical ensemble for a musical is rare these days, and the Walnut Street Theatre provided a generous ensemble of eleven listed musicians who performed admirably on multiple instruments. A few of the listed instruments included the usual keyboards, clarinets, saxophones, and trumpets, with less seen instruments such as piccolo, flugelhorn, trombones, mandolin, and dobro.


The cast included twenty performers whose photos appeared in the program. The three principal female leads were Dee Hoty (Violet Newstead), Amy Bodnar (Doralee Rhodes), and Amanda Rose (Judy Bernly).  Among the uniformly strong cast were Mary Martello as Liz, the faithful administrative assistant who brought down the house with her steamy “5 to 9,” where one would have thought it was Salome gyrating over the Baptist’s severed head, rather than a distinguished martinet gyrating over the boss’s photo.  Speaking of the boss, Paul Schoeffler’s Franklin Hart Jr. personified the male chauvinist pig to perfection. The audience enjoyed the vicarious pleasure of seeing him face justice.


“9 to 5: the Musical” will play until October 19. For more information, visit: www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org

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