by Shirley Lorraine
9 to 5 at Conejo Brings Large cast, High Energy
Some things apparently don’t change enough over time. One of them is the plight of working women everywhere – inequality. The Conejo Players Theatre in Thousand Oaks has highlighted this ongoing dilemma with their current production of 9 to 5, The Musical. Remember when the movie came out in 1980 and was a huge hit?
Based on a book by Patricia Resnick, country legend Dolly Parton picked up the gauntlet and wrote the music and lyrics to bring this saga of all-too familiar life in the steno pool at a large company run by “the good old boys club.”
Director Erin Fagundes has assembled a huge cast and has skillfully mounted a technically demanding production filled with engaging characterizations, familiar situations (sadly, many that are still in play even today) and high-spirited action. It is no wonder this hasn’t been seen on local stages – the sheer number of scene changes is daunting. Director Fagundes and set designer Jordyn Kieffer have managed to fashion a set that is highly functional and actually fun to watch as the set pieces are rolled in and out of the action without missing a beat. The set changes themselves are an integral part of the overall flow of the show.
The three main characters, memorably played in the movie by Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, are given new life by Katie McTyre, Dana Kolb and Mary Grace Zehnpfennig, respectively. Each is a powerhouse. All three have strong voices and enough energy to carry the audience through the two-and-a-half-hour journey.
The less than PC boss, Franklin Hart, Jr., is played to the comedic hilt by Scott Quintard. He embodies fully the character everyone loves to hate. He is often backed up by a capable cadre of yes-men dancers who are a delight to watch as they move set pieces into place.
The love-struck role of Roz is fully portrayed by Dana Weisman, who gives a stand-out and polished performance throughout.
A multitude of ensemble members fill the desk chairs, dance with enthusiasm and fill in all the gaps and then some. Of note is the choreography by Julie Hackett and Susan Ingram which gives everyone something to do. The large cast is also treated to a variety of costume changes to accent each “fantasy” production number. Well done keeping it 80’s light.
A live orchestra, hidden out of sight somewhere, provides excellent accompaniment throughout. Nice to hear it live rather than recorded.
You will exit the theatre with the familiar 9 to 5 song playing in your head for days and the realization that some aspects of corporate life haven’t really changed that much, despite the passage of time. But if we could just sing and dance our way throughout the days, as this cast does, all would be well in the end.
9 to 5 runs through December 4 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday December 3 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets available at www.ConejoPlayers.org, (805) 495-3715.