There has always been a tendency to turn Broadway shows into movies and vice versa. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. The staged musical production of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” at Musicals at Richter, Danbury, does not hold up as well as the movie. However, just by association with the film, it is entertaining. Most of the songs are forgettable, except for the title song, which was a hit in the film and is a hit on stage. The other numbers are rather forgettable. This is in spite of the fact that there are some pretty good vocalists who do a darn good job with what they have to work with.
Donald E. Birely directs this production with a cast that comes as close to the film as possible. Dan Koch is musical director and does a good job with the orchestra. Melinda Zupaniotis plays the role of Doralee Rhodes (played by Dolly Parton in the film) and is made up like Dolly Parton to the point of wearing an obvious Dolly-style wig. Though the songs she sings are rather forgettable, the vocalist has a good country-western style that serves her well.
Juliette Koch plays Violet and delivers a consistently strong performance and George Alberts as Franklin Hart, Jr., the big bad boss, really delivers an outstanding performance. Lauren Sherwood is the third gal, who holds the boss hostage, and she has her moment in the spotlight as Judy. Susan Kulp plays the devoted secretary to the boss and Robert Bria plays Joe, Violet’s beau with a touch of class.
Also featured in the production are locals Brendan Fox and Steven Taliaferro (Bethel); Dolly Conner, Barbara Kessler, Peter Philip and Priscilla Squiers (Danbury); Laura and Susan Gelb, Sarah Keough and Nina Wilson (New Fairfield); Karl Hinger (New Milford); Marie Armstrong and Amber Mason (Newtown); and Aran Abilock Clemmons (Wilton). Cast members from New York state include: James Hussey (Brewster); Denise Milmerstadt (Carmel); Morgana Watson (Patterson); and Julia Dimarzo, Donna Walsh and Emily Walsh (Poughkeepsie).
While Jen Turey Draghi’s choreography was appropriate for the musical numbers, the dancers were not always up to the moves. The same can be said for the ensemble of singers who didn’t always come in at the same time or end a number at the same time. The costumes by DB Productions and Renee Purdy were quite good, especially the outfits that were used in the Snow White number. Also impressive were the set changers who got the props on and off the set in the blink of an eye.
Overall, this is a good community theater production with some outstanding moments and some not-so-outstanding moments. What really works here is that the cast is enthusiastic and wins over the audience. The production plays through July 20. Box office: 203-748-6873.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS and CBS-CT. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]