Local Arts: 9 to 5, The musical

9 to 5, The Musical, is heading to the Arts & Culture Centre in St. John’s, bringing with it laughs, lighthearted moments and best of all, sweet revenge!


Dana Parsons is chuckling at some antic of the unpredictably delightful Sheila Williams when this writer walks in, unannounced,  during rehearsal. Shelley Neville lets out a hearty laugh at Parsons whispered reply, and soon the three are in ‘da fits.’ Justin Nurse greets yours truly and says playfully; ‘‘Welcome to my nightmare…’’

Outrageously comical

It’s all in good fun, and these stars of the stage say they are thrilled to be cast in 9 to 5, The Musical, the latest production of Atlantic Light Theatre. 

Led by co-artistic directors Jacinta Mackey-Graham and Doug Vaughan, the musical, featuring the music and lyrics of Dolly Parton, is based on the book by Patricia Resnick. A film of the same name was released in 1980, staring Parton, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman. 

This yarn, equal parts humour and thought-provoking drama, sees Franklin Hart, the  most sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigoted boss on the planet (Coleman/Nurse) facing his top assistant Violet (Tomlin/Williams) and her devilish co-workers Doralee (Parton/Neville) and Judy (Fonda/Parsons) who plot some outrageously comical methods of ‘doing him in.’ Hilarity follows when a freak incident occurs, Hart is kidnapped and the ladies-in-waiting take over the office. 

“I was really inspired by these ladies,’’ Vaughan begins sincerely, with a slight bow in the direction of Parsons, Neville and Williams. 

Triple threat

‘‘These three are the top when it comes to the stage, and we’ve never had them together, and we’ve never had (Williams) in a show before, so it’s really exciting,’’ he continues. 

Vaughn says the excitement mounts as they get closer to ‘go time.’ ‘

‘It’s a great show. It’s also very timely with all the stuff that’s going on in the world, but it’s a funny show with great songs and amazing characters.’’

Parsons agrees.  ‘‘The story is timeless. It’s as relevant now as it was in the 80s. Pay inequality, the ‘Me Too’ movement, inappropriateness in the workplace, those things are still happening,’’ she says.

Neville nods. ‘‘You know, the story addresses all those things, but it’s really about women coming together, being strong, being empowered. And, you know, Justin, he’s great at being the sleazy boss.’’

They laugh. ‘‘Let’s see… hypocritical, sexist, misogynistic, all these things he makes so fabulous,’’ Williams says before adding, ‘‘If you are a country music fan, that’s in there. It’s also a musical with really high energy numbers. There is something for everyone.’’

The odd man out

Nurse, who admits he’s outmanned at times, says he’d be wise to agree with his female cast mates. This show does have something for everyone, but he’s also out to save his onstage character some face too. 

‘‘I’m the odd man out. I am the enemy. They all have moments where they fantasize about killing me. I get to die three times in this musical. But, it’s a lot of fun to be the bad guy, to delve into that side of yourself and to enjoy it a little bit, because he’s hateful, but in a hilarious way.’’

Williams playfully shoots arrows Nurse’s way with her eyes. More laughter. No question, this show is going to be a must see, just for the chemistry and the playfulness demonstrated between these stars. 

Something all can agree they’re looking forward to? The outrageous outfits. One must don a kilt, and there’s ‘h’ankle’ jokes aplenty. There’s certainly enough polyester to go around, too, they share.

Bottom line? This show is guaranteed to be a laugh.

‘‘It’s fun, fun, fun, and that’s just rehearsals. The show is going to be amazing,’’ Williams promises. 

The show, which begins Jan 30th and was originally slated for a three night stint, just added a fourth show on Sunday, February 2nd. 

‘‘Tickets are going fast, as we expected. The show is going to be a lot of fun. It’s exciting. Familiar. It will get people tapping their toes and laughing,’’ Neville says.

Nurse, who is joyfully outnumbered, gets the last word. ‘‘I am honoured to be staking my claim and happy to give these ladies something to play off so they can really get into their roles by really, really wanting to do me in.’’

Presented by Atlantic Light Theatre, 9 to 5, The Musical opens Jan 30 – Feb 2, 2020 at 8:00 pm at the St. John’s, Arts & Culture Centre. For tickets, visit: artsandculturecentre.com 

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