Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: (Ottawa / Theatre) 9-5 The Musical

Revenge of the Working Girls
by Jim Murchison 

Patricia Resnick’s book and Dolly Parton’s lyrics are quite fun. Orpheus puts its energetic fun stamp on the stage version of the popular movie. This play is not Titanic or Fiddler on the Roof so go to it expecting to have some laughs and see some energetic performances and you should have a good time. There is s good message about equity for equal work and revenge on demanding misogynistic bosses who are short on imagination and quick on blame, but that is a byproduct of the fun and fancy.

The centrepiece of the action is the three women that transform themselves from the subservient gals to the clandestine triumvirate when the boss takes an unexpected leave of absence; Doralee, Violet and Judy.

Crista Cullain is the southern down home no nonsense country girl and she plays her with the drawl, a sway and a wink. Ms Cullain is a comely li’l thang anyway, but costumer Pauline Dogget has made sure to give her a most Partonesque presence. Becki Lantos’s character, Violet, quite nicely transforms from a no nonsense company woman who is a little quick to judge to a leader of the revolution who likes to party. Melinda Hudson has the most dramatic transformation from a newly divorced timid mouse to an over the top avenger.

I hope Brennan Richardson gets a lot of love from his castmates backstage because he has been playing some pretty shallow and despicable men on stage and Franklin Hart Jr. certainly qualifies. Richardson has got the smug, womanizing condescending boss down cold and it is a pleasure to see him get his comeuppance.

The 12-piece orchestra under the direction of Murray Dogget is a nice support and it was particularly nice to hear the way the dynamics of the main theme varied during set changes and lead-ins to the scenes capturing the mood of what was happening or about to happen. I did find that particularly in the first act there were some issues with the balance between the voices and the orchestra that allowed for a few of the lines to get lost.

The best choreographed moment was the very first scene as Deb Miller-Smith had the cast moving around like zombies in a manner very akin to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Judy Follet directed a tidy production that should please the cast and the audience while Orpheus plans to launch the next 106 years of musical theatre.

May 30 - June 8

Running Time: approximately 2 hours 40 minutes with one intermission.

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