Friday, April 20, 2018

Review of Firebrand Theatre's 9 to 5

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called 9 to 5. The music was by Dolly Parton and the book was by Patricia Resnick, based on the movie. It was directed by Harmony France and the music director was Andra Velis Simon. The choreography was by Kasey Alfonso. It was about three women--Doralee (Sharriese Hamilton), Violet (Anne Sheridan Smith), and Judy (Sara Reinecke)--who all worked at Consolidated Industries for a very sexist boss, Mr. Hart (Scott Danielson). Mr. Hart would harass them and give them unfair pay and be altogether a huge jerk. One day the three women have had enough so they decide to stand up for themselves. It is about sexism in the workplace, payback, and female empowerment. I think this musical was really funny and empowering and had really good songs.

Doralee, Violet, and Judy each have a song that embodies what the show is about and what their character's goal is. Doralee wants to be treated like a person instead of an object; Judy wants to get over her ex-husband and start a new life for herself; and Violet wants to get the promotion she deserves. They are all very different types of songs. This musical doesn't really conform to one specific genre of music, which I think worked very well because it is three different women's stories and they are all different types of people. "Backwoods Barbie" is Doralee's song which is a country lament about how even though she grew up poor in the country and wears a lot of makeup and a push-up bra, it doesn't mean she shouldn't be treated like a human being. This performer shows a lot of vulnerability in this song but also it has a few moments for belting, so it really shows off her range. Violet had a song called "One of The Boys," which was a very classic sparkly broadway number. It is Violet's dream about being the first female CEO of her company. She has all of these backup dancers (Royen Kent, Ted Kitterman, Khaki Pixley, Tyler Symone, and Michael Turrentine) wearing hats and red vests (costumes by Virginia Varland). These kinds of songs are not usually about a job. They are usually about beauty or sexuality, but in this one the way that she wants to get ahead is people actually noticing the great work that she has been doing for years. Instead of saying "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," she's saying equal pay and promotion are a girl's best friend. Instead of "Building a Stairway to Paradise," she's building a stairway through the glass ceiling. I really loved Judy's song "Get Out and Stay Out." I think the performer did an amazing job with this song. It is essentially an empower ballad where she takes back her life. You haven't seen this side of Judy until this moment, and she's talking about how her husband has never seen this side of her, but the audience hasn't either until she lets herself take control of her life. She's learned from these other women how power can be possible for women and they can become the boss of themselves.

I loved the character of Roz (Veronica Garza) and especially her song "Heart to Hart," which is Roz confessing her love for Mr. Hart. I think I want her saying "hot mama" like she did in the song as my ringtone. She was absolutely hilarious and she made such unbreaking eye contact with her audience while singing a very intimate song about her and Mr. Hart, her one true love. The contrast between how she is around her coworkers and how she is when she is alone thinking about Mr. Hart is absolutely hilarious. And you can still see glimpses of the awkward secretary coming through the vixen, when she is singing about her sexy time with Mr. Hart.

Joe (Turrentine) was the love interest of Violet and was maybe the only man who thought women should have equal pay and equal rights to men. He helps them find incriminating information about Mr. Hart, but he doesn't take over anything, and he doesn't take any credit that doesn't belong to him. He also doesn't approach beginning a relationship like the other men in the office by catcalling or grabbing. He decides to walk up to Violet and ask her out and that's it. That's all you really need to do! And when she rejects him, he doesn't get angry about it, he just tries to show her that they would get along. There's not always a lot of allyship in musicals, because the man is often the main character or just a love interest. But this character is a very good example of a feminist ally.

People who would like this show are people who like musical allyship, empower ballads, and awkward vixens. I think people should definitely go see this show. I think this is an important musical and I think they did a great job with it. I loved it.

Photos: Emily Schwartz

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