Vail Valley Theatre Company presents ‘9 to 5: The Musical’ in Edwards
If you go …
What: “9 to 5: The Musical,” a production of the Vail Valley Theatre Company, directed by Beth Swearingen.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16; Saturday, Oct. 17; Friday, Oct. 23; and Saturday, Oct. 24.
Where: Battle Mountain High School auditorium, 151 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.
Cost: Tickets are $20, plus fees, for general admission, or $15, plus fees, for students with a valid high school student ID.
More information: Visit www.vailtheatre.org to purchase tickets and learn more.
“What do you call a woman who’s lost 95 percent of her intelligence? … Divorced.”
It’s an archaic joke, one that if voiced in a modern office would likely be met with angry retorts and sternly worded notes to human resources. But in the male-dominated corporate world of the 1980s, it’s just another crude comment stacked amongst the many that routinely escape the lips of Franklin M. Hart Jr.
“He’s your basic misogynist, boys’ club, sexist, jerky boss. Like, who would say that?” said Lance Schober, of Eagle, who plays the role of Franklin in the Vail Valley Theatre Company’s new production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”
Screen to stage
The musical opens at 7:30 p.m. today at the Battle Mountain High School auditorium, with four shows on consecutive Fridays and Saturdays. The script for “9 to 5” might seem familiar, as it’s closely based on the 1980 film of the same title.
“Basically, three women in a 1980s office get together and realize that all the men are running the show, and they decide that it’s time for them to take over,” said Gretchen Swanson, of West Vail, who plays the role of Violet Newstead.
“They get their inspiration by smoking weed and dreaming up the most ridiculous plot ever to kill their boss. Soon, this all comes to fruition in ‘real life.’ At the end of the day, the entire show is about women’s empowerment, and they take over the office.”
Violet, Lily Tomlin’s character in the original film, is the un-liberated female office worker of the ’80s, who knows so much more than the boss and can’t wait to take over but has no avenue to do that, Swanson said.
“She’s Joan in ‘Mad Men,’” she said. “She runs the office, but the men take all the credit, but she knows just as much about everything. And she’s fierce and she’s widowed, so she’s had to figure it out all herself.”
Violet’s partners in crime are newly divorced office newbie Judy Bernly, Jane Fonda’s character, played by Charis Patterson, of Edwards, and sassy glamour pus Doralee Rhodes, performed by Johnette Toye, of West Vail.
“She’s obviously more glamorous, likes to be more dolled up, and determined to do the right thing in the office because I’m fed up like the other girls trying to make changes, and my boss is constantly hitting on me,” Toye said of her character.
“She’s trying not to get fired in the work world when sexual harassment wasn’t brought to light as much, so that’s something that she deals with all the time, but she needs the job, so she puts up with the harassment,” she said
Dolly Parton played the role of Doralee in the film and also penned the musical numbers that, in the stage version, stand in for much of the original dialogue. Toye said the songs are stylized after the characters themselves, with Doralee’s secret dream of being a country Western star coming through in her numbers.
“Judy’s character is softer, more emotional. She’s a woman in the working world all on her own,” Toye said. “Violet’s (songs) are based on being strong. She’s the leader. So I think Dolly wrote some pretty good stuff — it’s poppy, it’s nice.
“Without having music in the movie, it’s interesting how she took it. She created more backstories with these women, with the music giving them a little more power, strengthening their characters.”
Patterson said that though “9 to 5” is set in the ’80s, the show still resonates with current audiences, especially with the popularity of recent films such as “Horrible Bosses.”
“This was sort of the original ‘Horrible Boss’ that all the other ones leapfrogged from,” she said. “The more recent movies are more graphic, but this sort of summed up the stereotypical horrible guy that you don’t want to work for and how you get even with him.”
“It’s very current, especially in this valley, because of the influence of pot in this show,” Swanson said with a laugh. “It’s a typical ’80s throwback to when women’s liberation in the office was nowhere near where it is today.”
Back then, Schober said, most of the female office workers were secretaries, and though the corporate world has made a lot of progress in the sense that women are now more independent and are business owners and bosses themselves, the struggle for equal pay for equal work still remains.
“Initially, you have a bunch of women who are taking charge and not letting the boys’ club get in the way of treating themselves like equals,” Schober said. “And I think that definitely resonates with today’s debate on equal pay for women.”
Schober said that in a lot of areas, community theater is “going the way of the dodo,” but the quality of show put on by the Vail Valley Theatre Company is worth the price of admission. Swanson added that it’s an inexpensive, approachable way to experience a live show.
“It’s cool because people in this community who do theater often don’t broadcast it, so it’s really fun to see your server from Los Amigos or your buddy who works at Ace Hardware on stage singing,” Swanson said.
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