With three strong leading ladies and a fun script that sticks closely to the 1980 hit movie it's based on, Ralston Community Theatre's musical “9 to 5” has plenty of Fourth of July pop and sizzle in it.
The movie starred Lily Tomlin as Violet, a low-level manager bucking for a promotion at Consolidated Group; Dolly Parton as Doralee, an executive secretary shunned by co-workers because they think she's sleeping with the boss; and Jane Fonda as Judy, a newly divorced woman seeking her first job at Consolidated.
Happily, Parton's musical sticks pretty closely to the movie, presenting Franklin Hart Jr. as a nightmare boss who makes life miserable for all three women. Eventually a crisis leads the three to bond and fight back. After Violet thinks she's poisoned Hart by mistake, the three kidnap him while they gather evidence of embezzling against him. In his absence, they make improvements around the office — all in Hart's name.
Director Todd Uhrmacher has followed the script's like-the-movie lead in casting women who will actually remind you of the movie actresses. (Even their costumes are similar to those in the movie.) Yet they make these roles their own.
Melanie Walters blooms as timid, downtrodden Judy, and Erika Hall drawls and struts as shapely, big-haired Doralee. My personal favorite was Mary Kay Desjardins, whose dry humor and spirit make Violet a snap to root for.
All three prove they can belt out a solo with the best of them, and they blend nicely in harmony as well — though the sound system was so loud at a Wednesday preview, it distorted their voices.
Don Harris earns plenty of laughs as loathsome Franklin Hart, making Judy cry at the copy machine, Doralee run around the sofa and Violet fume when he gives her promotion to a man and sends her to fetch coffee. Harris isn't a great singer, but his character acting skills are so good you don't much care.
Top supporting players include Kyle Avery as Joe, a young accountant with a crush on Violet; Debbie Cline as Roz, Hart's inter-office spy, who is inexplicably in love with him; Michael Reilly as Doralee's supportive husband and Judy's slimy ex; and Julia Gilreath as Margaret, the office lush.
Light cues Wednesday were sometimes a bit early, sometimes a bit late, and the many scene changes seemed a bit slow and chaotic — but that's what dress rehearsals are for. Microphones also seemed to cut out a lot.
Michelle Garrity keeps the choreography lively yet not too complex for community players, and Ryan Pivonka pulls some nice harmonies out of the large chorus. Martin Frye conducts a nine-instrument combo.
An enjoyable touch: video allows Dolly Parton herself to introduce the characters and wrap up with a postlude about their lives after the story ends.