- By Brett Turner Contributing Writer
It was a different world when the film “9 to 5” came out. Set in 1979, the tale of three working women – played by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton – who kidnap their harassing, sexist boss to improve conditions at their workplace was a huge hit, and Dolly Parton’s theme song scored a No. 1 on the pop chart.
Today, in the era of the #MeToo movement standing up for women, “9 to 5” is in a funny place.
Director John A. Falkenbach said it’s about empowerment, but also emphasizes funny for Springfield Civic Theatre’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”
The show will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, and a special matinee at 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the John Legend Theater.
The musical, which premiered on Broadway in the late 2000s, closely follows the film with new music written by Dolly Parton added in, and a few other twists.
Civic Theatre organizers chose the show in the middle of last year before the many victims of sexual harassment came forward and Me Too formed.
Falkenbach said taken the right way, “9 to 5: The Musical” is a fun experience.
“You take it as a period piece and it’s funny with great lines and situational humor,” said Falkenbach, who has directed several previous Civic Theatre productions. “Audiences will like the working-class theme and putting it to the man.”
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He said the female leads, played by Nancy Mahoney, Andrea Migliozzi and Lonnee Jensen, play well off each other along with Michael Crumley, who takes on the role of boss Franklin Hart, Jr.
There are 15 in the cast, an even mix of veterans and newcomers.
Falkenbach’s biggest challenge has been getting the harmonies down. The score is written for a larger cast, but he said it’s sounding good, with all the characters getting a song.
Crumley, a 25-year veteran of local theater, enjoys playing the role of the sleazy Hart as it’s opposite of him.
“I was somebody’s boss for 39 years and was never like this guy. I told my friends to bring tomatoes to throw at me,” he said, laughing. “This role is fun, but so wrong.”
Meeting new people, being challenged in new parts and bringing joy to the audience keeps Crumley coming back.
Fellow theater veteran Mahoney sees aspects of “9 to 5: The Musical” as not far off the truth.
“I look at it and think it really was like that and in some places still is,” she said of the workplace atmosphere. “It’s kind of fun, but not funny at the same time. It’s so timely right now with everything that’s coming out.”
Ultimately, Mahoney said that’s how theater should work, educating and entertaining at the same time.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at OvationTix.