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Review: “9 to 5” at the Henegar Center

Henegar Center presents "9 to 5 the Musical"

Henegar Center presents “9 to 5 the Musical”


The Henegar Center sets the stage to showcase new and growing talent with its sleek production of “9 to 5 the musical.”

The 2009 musical is written by Patricia Resnic with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. It is a faithful musical retelling of the 1980 movie that starred Ms. Parton, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman.

In it, an unlikely trio of harassed women join forces to get back at their sexist boss.

Kim Miller is impassioned as Violet Newstead, the woman who keeps hitting her head against the glass ceiling. A single mother, she refuses to accept that a man should be paid more because he’s the head of a family.

Lindsay Nantz is wonderful as blonde bombshell Doralee Rhodes, a smart country gal who discovers her boss has been spreading unfounded rumors. Ms. Nantz is a charmer on stage and has a melodic voice that always finds the music’s sweet spot.

As Judy Bernley, Holly McFarland reveals a deep performance talent. She crafts her portrayal of the young, insecure divorcee as one who eventually discovers inner strength. Her big number, “Get Out and Stay Out,” is a knock-out.

And Rob Landers is exquisitely dastardly as the male chauvinistic pig Franklin Hart. Mr. Landers digs into some wonderfully dark places to bring out this character and it’s right on. His song, “Here for You,” is as creepy and well done as can be.

Pam Quenzler draws a comical caricature of Roz Keith, the office busybody who has the hots for Hart.

But really, this is one strange mash up of movie and stage musical. It starts with a video of Dolly Parton giving the backstory on each of the main characters. It ends with another video in which Dolly speaks to the bewildered live theater audience and then sings “9 to 5” along with the cast.

What’s especially appealing about the Henegar production, though, is the talent that continues to emerge on its stage. Some of it is new, some has been around for a while but had never “come out.” And some is continuing to grow and shine.
Director/choreographer Amanda Cheyenne Manis has created some rich choreography and production numbers. Her “Heart to Hart” number in which a bevy of Roz Keiths come out to dance is inspired.

David McQuillen Robertson’s set and lighting design is clean and smart. Shannon Reppert’s costume design and Will Bernstein’s hair design are right on for time. The orchestra, led by Sue Diebel sounds solid.

The biggest problem stilling nagging the Henegar are technical ones.

The venue needs a technical director, a counterweight fly system that works and speakers that don’t steal the glory away from a performer like Holly McFarland during what should have been her show stopper number (she was robbed).

Despite a rugged opening night, the show came together with fluid precision on Sunday. It’s fun, stylish, and more important, showcases some impressive talent.

SIDE O’ GRITS: “9 to 5 the Musical” runs through May 18 at the Henegar Center for the Arts, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. $16 to $25, handling charges may apply. Call 321-723-8698 or visit www.henegar.org.