Photo: The performance poster for “9 to 5, The Musical”
With the nation focused on the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, country singer Dolly Parton said last month that now is a good time to remake her hit 1980’s film, “9 to 5,” one of the first to highlight sexual harassment of women in the workforce.
So it’s timely that the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company shines a light on a major social issue with its spring staging of Parton’s musical version of “9 to 5.” Based on the hit movie, “9 to 5, The Musical” features music and lyrics by Parton. It is upbeat, funny, full of great singing & dance numbers and delivers a message about empowerment that is relevant and important today.
“9 to 5, The Musical” will take place at Belmont High School’s auditorium on Thursday, and Friday, March 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. and two performances on Saturday, March 24, a matinee at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets on sale online and at Champions in Belmont Center.
ADULTS: $15 in advance, $18 at the door
STUDENTS: $10 (Belmont High students get half-price tickets for Thursday’s performance)
According to Performing Arts Company’s award-winning Producer and Director Ezra Flam, selecting “9 to 5” occurred after talking to the students “and looking for a show that met all of these demands and felt like it would inspire and excite the cast/crew and artistic team.”
“I didn’t know anything about 9 to 5 other than that it was ‘the Dolly Parton’ musical, and I didn’t know of any other high schools that had done the show. However, after we did one of the songs from the show at Broadway Night [in the fall], I decided to give it a read. I was only halfway through the script when I knew this was the show for us,” said Flam.
“The heart of the show is a friendship between three women, which inspires all of them to find strength in themselves and in one another. The backdrop of the show is a musical comedy: the songs are fun, there’s lots of humor, and tons of dance,” said Flam.
“However, against that backdrop is also a serious look at gender inequality in the workplace. We have taken the opportunity to talk in rehearsal about gender discrimination, sexual harassment, fair labor practices and the ways in which the landscape has – and hasn’t – changed in the last 40 years. With the current national awareness about many of these issues, students have been able to make some meaningful and thoughtful connections between the events of the show, the modern world, and their own lives,” said Flam
“9 to 5: The Musical” is set in the late 1970s at the fictional Consolidated Industries. Three female employees – Violet, Judy, and Doralee – are tired of being overlooked, belittled and harassed by their boss. What starts out as a fantasy of getting rid of him turns into a comical reality when they end up kidnapping him by accident. The three women then take control of the office and institute a series of new policies, which increase employee morale and productivity.
The original movie, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Parton, was made in 1980, and the musical adaptation was written in 2008. Besides the title song was written for the movie, the rest of the music was written by Parton for the musical.
“9 to 5” is appropriate for Middle School and older audience members. The show contains language and moments that may not be appropriate for younger audiences: parents may want to read a synopsis or watch the movie before deciding to bring young kids. Scenes depict sexual harassment, adult situations, and some adult language.
“This production showcases what the Performing Arts Company does best: give our actors and stage crew the chance to learn about theater by creating a fully realized production,” said Flam.
“As always, the singing and dancing are sure to be a real highlight. There’s a wonderfully fun sequence of scenes when the three main characters fantasize about getting rid of the boss which takes us from a jazzy noir-inspired dance to a rodeo hoedown to a live-action animated fairy-tale. The opening number of Act 2 features tap dance, and there’s much more fun choreography throughout,” said Flam.
“The music in this show is also a challenge for students, but once they have been meeting well. Many songs feature complicated vocal harmonies and the cast sounds strong. 13 student musicians have been rehearsing with Orchestra Director Margot Reavey and will help bring all of that music to life,” he said
“It’s also been fun for the tech crew to find a way to make the late 1970s feel bright and vibrant. We have pumped up some of the classic colors of the era to give it a bit of a pop feel, and the scenery, costumes, lighting, and props will definitely lend a fun vibe to the overall experience,” said Flam.