At Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center (CM PAC) in Oakdale, director Patrick Grossman wonderfully replicated the Tony nominated Broadway production of 9 To 5. Now playing through August 26th, this adorable and hilarious musical shows the journey of three women who've had enough of their overbearing boss.
The top of the show featured one of its creators, the legendary Dolly Parton (lyrics and music), projected onto a screen above the stage. She welcomed everybody and introduced our heroines Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly, and her character from the 1980 movie, Doralee Rhodes.
Indeed it was a fabulous trio of CM PAC vets starring in this production.
Jill Ameri wonderfully portrayed Violet Newstead. Recently widowed and now a single mom, Violet is the unofficial office manager of Consolidated Industries. She trains everyone and it seems she has been employed there the longest (she was livid when she was passed over for a promotion to someone she trained). Ms. Ameri’s powerful performance of "One of the Boys" with the incredible male ensemble was a favorite of the nearly sold out audience.
Jennifer Hope was fantastic as Judy Bernly. Judy's husband has left her and she's forced to go to work with basically no training or experience. She meets Violet who takes her under her wing and teaches her the ropes of "Corporate America". One of the best performances was in Act II where Ms. Hope performs "Get Out and Stay Out". This is where an empowered Judy stands her ground and gets closure from her ex-husband, Dick (William Sheehan). Ms. Hope performed this with such conviction in her stunning voice, she didn't seem to need the mic.
Rounding out this terrific trio was Lisa Ganz as the misunderstood Doralee Rhodes. Doralee is the southern-belle-buxom-blond secretary of Franklin Hart, Jr., portrayed by Rob Schindlar. Hart, Jr. is the one the ladies are trying to take down. Ms. Ganz's rendition of "Backwoods Barbie" was heartbreaking as she reflects how she's not taken seriously. One reason is that Franklin, unbeknownst to Doralee, started a rumour that they had an affair. At the end, she gave a great performance even though it seemed her mic was tuned too low.
In addition to these incredible ladies, Steve Cottonaro, as the young up-and-comer Joe, and Erica Giglio, as the homely Roz, shined in their respective roles. Joe is in the finance department at Consolidated Industries and falls for Violet. Their beautiful performance of “Let Love Grow” was well received. Laughter ensued when Ms. Giglio took the stage. Roz is obsessed with Franklin Hart, Jr. and protects him at all costs. She did a top-notch rendition of “5 To 9” dwindling on her loneliness during the hours after work until she has to return to the office in the morning to see him.
The set was well thought through, but they could have been more discrete with their set changes. For the office work area, they had several teacher’s desks throughout the stage (very industrial). For Hart's office, several grand bookcases aligned the back and had a large desk and couch. Overall, they made great use of the small space they have.
If there was one thing that wasn’t up to CM standards, it would be the costumes. They didn’t seem to fit the time the show was set in. I saw more of a 90s vibe rather than late 70s/early 80s.
One thing is for sure, when you have a show that has three strong females conspiring to stick it to their overbearing boss, you’re in for a fun time. Is this the strongest of material? No. But this great cast in CM PACs production of 9 To 5 ensures a memorable evening.
9 To 5 is presented by Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center in Oakdale, Long Island through August 26th. Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton, Book by Patricia Resnick, Directed and Set Design by Patrick Grossman, Technical Direction by Mark Decaterina, Lighting Design by Zephan Ellenbogen, Sound Design by Don Hanna, Costume Design Ronald R. Green III, Choreography by M.E. Junge, Orchestra Direction by Christopher Mckee.