Parton's "9 to 5" works at TMP

Three female coworkers concoct a plan to get even with their sexist boss

By Joann Varnell on May 21, 2013

In an era of Mad Men where glamorizing sexism and misogyny isn't given a second thought, it's no wonder that shows like 9 to 5, based on the 20th Century Fox motion picture, are being produced. True to the plot of the film starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, 9 to 5 was turned into a musical with the songs written by Dolly Parton and first produced in 2009. Due to low ticket sales, 9 to 5 only lasted on Broadway six months. Regardless of its unpopularity on Broadway, 9 to 5 began a national tour in 2010. With video cameos by Dolly Parton, catchy songs and a good cast, Tacoma Musical Playhouse embraces the misogynistic world of 9 to 5 with no apologies.

TMP suggests this play is not recommended for children younger than 13 due to a pot smoking scene by the main characters, mild language, and plenty of lewd and sexually suggestive moments. The plot does have some humorous moments and lines but much of it just feels awkward and cringe worthy as the main characters struggle to be more than objects against their "autocratic, sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigoted boss." The women are ultimately challenged with sticking it to the man, creating positive change within their company, while trying to stay out of jail.

Regardless of the issues with the plot, the redeeming moments of TMP's production were thanks to the actors playing the three main roles of Judy, Doralee and Violet. Each of the women played their roles convincingly and comically, which saved the production from seeming painfully long. Sheri Tipton plays Violet Newstead, a single mom who is tired of being passed over for promotions simply because she is a woman. Brynne Geiszler plays Judy Bernly, a new employee whose husband has left her for his secretary. Cherity Harchis plays Doralee Rhodes, the role originally played by Dolly Parton. Harchis is adorable as a sweet Texan whom everyone misjudges based on her looks and the lies of their boss, Mr. Hart.

Hart is played by John B. Cooper who creates a character so successfully disgusting, the audience can't find anything human or positive with which to identify. Thankfully, not all the male characters are lascivious jerks. Shannon Russell plays decent guy Joe, a junior accountant who tries to woo Violet and ultimately becomes an ally to her, Judy, and Doralee. 

Harchis was definitely one of the strongest singers of the cast with her main costars right behind. Regardless of the singing talents of the cast, many of the duets and ensemble pieces weren't as strong as their individual abilities suggested. It's difficult to say how much of that was due to sound issues such as inconsistent mic volumes. Thankfully, TMP only has one more show before remodeling their theater, moving the orchestra behind the stage, and updating their sound system. Hopefully next season, there won't be anymore missed lines due to circumstances beyond the actors' control.

9 TO 5, through June 9, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, $20-$29, 253.565.6867