Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Fed up with sexism, women take over in '9 to 5 The Musical"

 Allie Townsend as Doralee (left), Glenna Murillo as Violet and Rachelle Abbey as Judy commiserate. (David Allen photo)

If working women bucked the old-boy network and ran the office, they’d be a lot better off. That’s what happens in “9 to 5 The Musical,” presented by Foothill Music Theatre.

With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick, this timely, entertaining show premiered in 2008 and was based on the 1980 film starring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

It takes place in 1979 at company led by Franklin Hart (Aaron Hurley). He treats female employees, especially the young, attractive ones, like sex objects, calls them girls and makes them fetch his coffee. A woman who discovers that she’s being paid less than a man doing the same job is fired.

Fed up with his behavior, three of the women conspire to hide him for a few weeks, fake memos from him and institute much-needed changes. Soon everyone is better off.

The women are led by Violet (Glenna Murillo in the Tomlin role), a widow with a teenage son.

Her cohorts are the young, newly hired Judy (Rachelle Abbey in the Fonda role), who’s recently divorced, and the sexy but happily married Doralee (Allie Townsend in the Parton role). Doralee has to fend off the boss the most.

All three of these women do well. Also noteworthy is Angela Cesena as Roz, the administrative assistant who’s Hart’s spy and who has a crush on him. She has a standout number, “Heart to Hart,” in which she tells how much she loves him.

The supporting characters and ensemble are strong, with kudos going to Kayvon Kordestani as Margaret, the office drunk who benefits from the new rehab benefit.

Parton’s songs have a distinctively country twang, and they’re performed well under the musical direction of Dolores Duran-Cefalu, who leads four instrumentalists from the keyboard.

The show is crisply directed by Milissa Carey with lively choreography by Claire Alexander. The flexible set is by Christopher Fitzer, the attractive costumes by Chiara Cola and sound by Andrew Heller. Keenan Molner’s lighting is sometimes too dim.

Although the show glosses over some plot lines like Hart’s cooking the books and makes light of his unwanted sexual advances – especially in this #MeToo era -- overall it’s timely and, most of all, lots of fun.

Running about two and a half hours with one intermission, it will continue through March 18 in the Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

For tickets and information, call (650) 949-7360 or visit https://foothill.edu/theatre/productions/9to5.html.