ALHAMBRA THEATRE AND DINING REVIEW
The Alhambra Theatre opened 9 to 5 The Musical at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville on September 16, 2015 for a run through October 18. If the advanced sale of tickets means anything, the production is one of the most in-demand shows at the Alhambra in recent years. For reservations, call (904) 641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com.
9 to 5 is based on the very popular 1980 movie starring Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda. The musical opened in New York in 2009 and received four Tony award nominations and fifteen Drama Desk award nominations. While full of laughs and a lot of fun, it is a look back at a time when things in the workplace weren’t so great for women. The time was 1979, the wages were low, promotions were almost always given to men, and while sexual harassment existed, no one talked about it.
The musical revolves around three attractive women, office workers who dream of the day they can dispose of Mr. Hart, their male chauvinist boss, who is portrayed with great physicality and humor by Mark Poppleton.
The large cast is splendid and so is everyone in it. Director/Producer Tod Booth knew he would need outstanding voices for this show and cast it with three newcomers and twelve talented veterans who have appeared in previous Alhambra productions.
The three leading ladies are Juliana Davis as Violet (the Tomlin role), Kelsey Denae as Judy (the Fonda role), and Zoe Kassay as Doralee (the Parton role). Ms. Kassay both looks and sounds like Dolly, and can sure belt out the songs in emulation of the multi-talented entertainer. The ladies have some notable musical moments, and along the way, they kidnap the boss and lock him away for a couple of weeks, while they take over the office and run things their way, with remarkable results.
Dolly Parton, who wrote the music and lyrics for every one of the sixteen songs, believed in spreading the work around. The very attractive Melanie Souza dons a frumpy dress and plays Roz, an office supervisor who inexplicably has the hots for the womanizing Hart; she belts out “Heart to Hart,” a vampy number that the audience loved. Joe, a junior accountant portrayed by Alex Jorth, has romantic feelings for the widowed Violet and they sing a lovely romantic duet “Let Love Grow.”Alexia Adcock, who has appeared primarily as a dancer in past theatre performances, plays the steno pool employee Margaret, who has a serious problem involving imbibing alcohol during work hours (but does recover).
Others in this singing and dancing cast include: Joseph Mahoney, Shain Stroff, Mark Mansilungan, Linzy Lauren, Olivia Chernyshev, Jessica Hayden, Michael Scott Ross and Travis Young.James Kinney, the very busy and extremely talented choreographer has staged some fabulous numbers for this show and amazingly must have found more than twenty-four hours in a day, as he also directed and choreographed “La Cage Aux Folles” at Players by the Sea which opened on the same night as the Alhambra’s “9 to 5.”
The costumes by The Costume Crew (Camala Pitts and Dorinda Quiles) reflected the era of the 1970s, with many changes needed during the time span of the play.
The clever set by Ian Black was quickly changed from office scenes to other settings, including the kidnapper’s hideaway bedroom for their captive boss.
Judging from the pre-sale shows, “9 to 5” was already a hit before it opened, but after seeing the excitement generated by the gala night audience, it may be one of the hottest tickets in town, so reserve early. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch this retro-themed musical with lively music that is a bit rockabilly and country. You will likely find that you will be humming the catchy title song as you leave the theatre. We did.