note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Within a few weeks, I saw Ogunquit Playhouse and North Shore Music Theatre’s (NSMT) productions of Patricia Resnick’s two-act musical comedy, “9 to 5”. The two, established, nationally-known theaters featured strong casts, crews and fantastic musicians but their own, individual, unique staging, props and role interpretation.
The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2009, is based on Dolly Parton’s music and lyrics and the multi-award winning 1980‘s movie, in which Parton co-starred with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Ogunquit starred inimitable and fabulously funny Sally Struthers as Consolidated Co. snitch, Roz Keith, but NSMT’s counterpart, Boston-regional darling, petite Kathy St. George, is equally hilarious. While Struthers is bombastic and in-your-face, St. George is more frustrated and spinster-like in her dishwater gray semblance and demeanor. Both stars stole the spotlight, winning the heartiest applause. This review highlights NSMT’s fast-paced production, which closes Oct. 7. (The Ogunquit review appeared in an earlier edition).
The 1,500-seat Beverly theater-in-the-round also featured Broadway star Dee Hoty, (who stepped in for ailing Lucie Arnaz), portraying widowed, longtime secretary-single mom, Violet Newstead. Hoty was the ideal shoo-in, given she appeared in the national touring company production. So did co-star, Holly Davis, as married but separated Judy Bernly, who has no office skills, but needs a job - and her life back. She’s the mouse who roared in every number, but especially later, in “Get Out and Stay Out,” her triumphant declaration to her ex-husband, who dumped her for a 19-year-old.
Shayla Osborn, who recently portrayed sexy-looking, happily-married Doralee Rhodes in another theater, unleashed her voice and rootin-tootin’ Texas sense of justice, especially in songs “Backwoods Barbie” and “Cowgirl’s Revenge,” while handsome NSMT-Broadway favorite, George Dvorsky, was uncharacteristically, outlandishly lewd as Franklin Hart, their boss and object of their ire, yet conversely, Roz’s heart-throb.
Both productions featured Parton’s voice in the introduction, but at Ogunquit, her video image and voice beamed from a large, central clock. Parton set the premise of days past, when women were locked into menial jobs, received less pay than men, and had little or no chance for advancement. In some cases, sexual harassment and degradation were part of the daily routine.
Although the plot degenerates to hyperbolic silliness, as Violet, Judy and Doralee form a vengeful triumvirate plot against their offensive boss during a hazy, marijuana-laced girl’s night out, Richard Stafford’s direction and choreography, coupled with the cast’s exuberance that spilled into the audience on nearby platforms and in the aisles, was catchy.