‘9 to 5: The Musical’ is a fun addition to Gammage season

“9 to 5: The Musical” is as much a story about sticking it to the man and embracing female power as it is a good time.

The musical follows the story of three women who work for the most unfortunate of bosses. Violet Newstead (Dee Hoty) has seen it all at the office of Consolidated Industries. She’s been with the company for far too many years, and she only puts up with the sexist nonsense from her boss, Franklin Hart, Jr., brilliantly played by Joseph Mahowald, in hopes that she will get a promotion. (Mahowald does a swell job of making the audience dislike his character.)

At the beginning of the show, Violet gets stuck training the new girl, Judy Bernly (Ashley Moniz), who is entering the workforce fresh off her failed marriage, full of emotion and just enough hope. The audience also meets Doralee Rhodes (Diana DeGarmo), the girl with the big heart and looks to kill.

Hart creates such a negative and uncomfortable workplace that misconceptions and improbable friendships form among the women. After Hart spreads a promiscuous rumor about Doralee, she puts her Southern manners on hold and pairs up with Violet and Judy to turn the company around and put Hart in his proper place.

Moniz’s portrayal of Judy was exceptional. The character was the underdog, but the actress was another story.

She wasn’t the leader of the powerhouse trio, but she was just as powerful in her own ways. Moniz never missed a second of the emotion that she needed to convey. “I Just Might” was probably her character’s turning point, as she realized that she “just might” be OK after a divorce. Her performance of “Get Out and Stay Out” only solidified her vocal skills, acting skills and my appreciation of this fine actress.

Something must also be said for DeGarmo’s depiction of Dolly Parton’s famous role, Doralee Rhodes. Doralee grows as a character throughout the musical, but more importantly, DeGarmo did extraordinarily well holding on to the essence of Parton and staying away from the persona she developed on “American Idol.”

Everything was perfect for the part. She was proportional to Parton, her accent was just as sweet and Southern as Parton’s and her voice was fabulous for the role.

If you’re familiar with DeGarmo’s work, you might be able to pick up on her voice as it comes through when she sings some of the lower notes. Watching her in the role was fabulous — she wasn’t just an imitation of Parton; she owned the role in her own way. The third woman, Violet (Dee Hoty), balanced out the character development of the other two with her consistently strong presence. Her role was almost maternal. Not only is Violet a mother in the musical, but she also had to train Judy, regain composure after the girls’ plan was set into motion and lead the way as the behind-the-scenes boss of the company while Hart was away.

When the three women come together with all of their strengths, the end result is nothing but fun to watch. For instance, the songs, “The Dance of Death,” “Cowgirl’s Revenge” and “Potion Notion” take significant time for the girls to convey the simple idea of teaching their boss a lesson, but the three songs together were also one of the best parts of the whole show. A final mention should go to Kristine Zbornik who played Hart’s annoying assistant, Roz Keith. Her allegiance to him coupled with her secret desire to be with him added a lot of humor to the musical.

All in all, “9 to 5: The Musical,” is a good time with strong actors, entertaining musical numbers and even a surprise appearance by the blond bombshell herself — Dolly Parton.

Tickets can be purchased online at asugammage.com, over the phone at 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or in person at the ASU Gammage box office.

Reach the reporter at mmattox@asu.edu

4/5 Pitchforks

Starring: Dee Hoty, Diana DeGarmo, Ashley Moniz, Joseph Mahowald and Kristine Zbornik

Run Dates: Feb. 22 - Feb. 27

This article has been revised from its original version to reflect a correction. The review identified Mamie Parris as the character Judy Bernly. Ashley Moniz was the actress standing in for Parris during the reviewed performance.

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