By Dale King
Lake Worth Playhouse flips the calendar page on its 2021-22 season, opening the new year with a lively and entertaining revival of the comic workplace improvement saga, 9 to 5.
The 2008 stage production inspired by the 1980 film starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton (who wrote the tunes and lyrics for the show’s mainly up-tempo soundtrack) remains an entertaining, high-energy stage show some 40 years after being conceived in print (by author Patricia Resnick) and on film.
Originally presented as a way of delivering positive, albeit whimsical, notoriety for the women’s equality movement, that struggle continues today in more modern incarnations.
A capable cast of 18 stage-savvy ladies and gents, a better-than-average array of songs and a talented ensemble of vocal and dance folks demonstrate to the world how a corporate workplace can operate much more efficiently if females make the big decisions — and if sexist, overbearing male bosses who demand coffee with a side order of sexual favors are relegated to less-important chores.
Like the film, the plot of the musical involves three female employees at a massive, impersonal corporation whose tyrannical boss, Mr. Hart (portrayed with unabashed nastiness by Jim Tyminski) is a skirt-chasing, wife-ignoring, employee-firing loudmouth whom the ladies discover may be dipping his hands into the company till.
The female leads — Violet (Diane Tyminski), Doralee (Marci Robin, in the Parton role) and Judy (Meghan Cires) — employ a series of wild concoctions in hopes of sidelining Hart long enough to rectify his managerial ways that have crushed the spirit and efficiency of employees. This includes sending Hart’s right-hand girl, Roz (Lenore Goldfeder, in a rollicking role that seriously threatens to steal scenes) on a wild goose chase to keep her from tipping off the boss.
(The evening we attended, ensemble member Victoria Johnson filled in for Cires in the role of Judy. The original actress has returned to the cast.)
The leading ladies’ plans go awry as they get stoned on marijuana and dream of ways to give Hart the heave-ho. Each in turn lapses into a murderous fantasy involving the big, bad boss: Judy as an unforgiving femme fatale (“The Dance of Death”), Doralee as a crack rodeo star (“Cowgirl’s Revenge”) and Violet as a deranged Snow White (“Potion Notion”).
Actually, Dolly Parton is never far from the Lake Worth Playhouse production. Her offstage pre-recorded voice opens the show by introducing her popular, bouncy “9 to 5,” to start the show on a high note. The line in Dolly’s song about stumbling out of bed and “pouring yourself a cup of ambition” is truly notable — and establishes a motif for the ensuing production.
9 to 5 is an engaging show with lots to rave about. Diane Tyminski and her cohorts, Robin and Johnson, bond well to create a force to reckon with on the workplace battlefield.
Given the unenviable task of playing the lecherous chief exec, Jim Tyminski (true-life husband of Diane) invests his character with just the right tongue-in-cheek excesses.
Also notching noteworthy showings are Chris Ombres, who portrayed Galileo in last summer’s Queen tribute, We Will Rock You; Jy’ireze Bell-Bennett as Bob, whose promotion to a job Violet ached to get stirs the simmering office cauldron and Carl Van Dyke, whose short appearance as the big, big boss, Tinsworthy, is critical to the plot.
Cathy Randazzo-Olsen, director of Education and Community Outreach for Lake Worth Playhouse, helms this full-tilt performance that builds on the exceptional talents of performers who not only sing, dance and act with the best of them, but quickly change costumes in rapid-fire fashion. Plaudits to costume designer Maya Suchy for her elegant work and to choreographer Kassie Meiler for her top-notch skills.
An adept stage crew also moves scenery so quickly that the many and varied sets fit together with nary a seam visible. Also worthy of mention is Ed Kolcz who, as music director, literally doesn’t miss a note.
9 to 5 plays through Jan. 30 at the Lake Worth Playhouse, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth Beach. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 561-586-6410 or visiting www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.