Review: 9 to 5: The Musical (Firebrand Theatre)

| April 14, 2018

Tyler Symone, Khaki Pixley, Sara Reinecke, Anne Sheridan Smith, Sharriese Hamilton, Alyssa Soto and Elizabeth Morgan            


9 to 5: The Musical
Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru May 20  |  tix: $20-$45  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Solid production of uneven musical


Tyler Symone, Khaki Pixley, Sara Reinecke, Anne Sheridan Smith, Sharriese Hamilton, Alyssa Soto and Elizabeth Morgan

Firebrand Theatre presents
9 to 5: The Musical

Review by Lauren Whalen

The 1980 movie “9 to 5” is iconic for its catchy theme son and, more significantly, for highlighting the issues women in the workplace still face today, in the form of a dark comedy-fantasy hybrid. The musical opened on Broadway in 2009, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, who co-starred in the film and wrote its Grammy-winning theme. Sadly, 9 to 5: The Musical has an uneven score and an inconsistent, shallow book, and doesn’t really capture the comedy magic that made the film so memorable. On a happier note, the Anne Sheridan Smith, Michael Turrentine, Khaki Pixley, Ted Kitterman, Royen Kent and Tyler Symone star in 9 to 5nascent Firebrand Theatre’s second production has a terrific cast and band that almost, but not quite, make up for the source material’s flaws.

It’s 1979, and three secretaries (not yet called administrative assistants) are toiling under a terrible boss. Mr. Hart (Scott Danielson) is a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” who enjoys all the perks the “old boys’ club” of corporate America has to offer, and gleefully abuses the women who work under him. He relentlessly bullies Judy (Sara Reinecke), who is starting her first-ever job after her husband leaves her for a 19-year-old named Mindi. He denies hardworking single mother Violet (Anne Sheridan Smith) a well-deserved promotion, opting instead for a young man Violet trained. And Hart sexually harasses Doralee (Sharriese Hamilton), a happily married Texas native with plenty of sass and a gun in her purse. A misunderstanding leads to the three women taking Hart hostage, and turning the female-dominated office into the happier, more productive place they want.

As a woman in the workforce, it’s hard not to relate to 9 to 5. Even though human resources policies have changed and more companies are hip to work-life balance, most of us have experienced less-qualified male supervisors, sexual harassment and/or unfair treatment by male bosses. When it comes to office sexism, American society still has a long way to go. Unfortunately, the musical doesn’t capture this anger turned into action as effectively as the movie. Though many of Parton’s songs are unsurprisingly excellent and Patricia Resnick’s book has some accurate moments of frustration and empowerment, 9 to 5: The Musical doesn’t quite gel. The first act is almost twice as long as the second, certain scenes could be cut entirely, and most of the songs are solos with only the singer on stage.

Sharriese Hamilton, Anne Sheridan Smith, Scott Danielson and Sara Reinecke star in 9 to 5, FirebrandSharriese Hamilton, Tyler Symone, Elizabeth Morgan, Veronica Garza, Khaki Pixley and Alyssa Soto star in 9 to 5Sara Reinecke, Anne Sheridan Smith and Sharriese Hamilton star in 9 to 5, Firebrand Theatre

Thankfully, 9 to 5’s cast is phenomenal. Many actors also play instruments, and all display gorgeous, well-trained vocals and stellar comic timing. Jeff Award-winner Veronica Garza steals the show as always, as Mr. Hart’s dedicated flunky Roz, who (of course) is secretly in love with her boss. Elizabeth Morgan has some very funny moments as Margaret the office drunk, and Danielson is appropriately sleazy and completely unsympathetic as the boss from hell. Smith shines bright as Violet, who wants to be a CEO and a good mother, and Reinecke’s voice is spectacular as Judy goes from shrinking violet to woman in charge. Hamilton’s Doralee has the sweetness and smarts that would make Parton proud. The commitment to female-driven musicals by Director Harmony France, also Firebrand’s founder and Artistic Director, is both evident and welcome. Though the script is very uneven, 9 to 5: The Musical is a promising second production for Firebrand, on the heels of last year’s highly-praised premiere production Lizzie.

Rating: ★★★

9 to 5: The Musical continues through May 20th at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $45 (students & industry rush tickets: $20), and are available by phone (773-697-3830) or at (check for availability of half-price tickets). More info at time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission)

Sharriese Hamilton, Veronica Garza, Tyler Symone, Michael Turrentine, Khaki Pixley, Danielson, Soto, Kent, Morgan and Kitterman

Photos by Emily Schwartz




Scott Danielson (Mr. Hart), Veronica Garza (Roz), Sharriese Hamilton (Doralee), Royen Kent (Bob, Dwayne), Ted Kitterman (Dick, Tinsworthy), Elizabeth Morgan (Margaret, Missy), Khaki Pixley (Kathy), Sara Reinecke (Judy), Anne Sheridan Smith (Violet), Alyssa Soto (Maria), Tyler Symone (Josh), Michael Turrentine (Joe), Rebecca Bradford, Roy Brown, Paige Daigle (swings)


Andra Velis Simon (piano, music director), Emily Barrett (piano, April 21-22), Ricardo Santiago (guitars), Chel Hernandez (bass, guitar), Sarah Weddle (drums, percussion)

behind the scenes

Harmony France (director), Andra Velis Simon (music direction), Kasey Alfonso (choreography), Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Virginia Varland (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Amanda Sager (sound design), Geoff Bleeker (production manager), Adelina Feldman-Schultz (assistant director, casting director), Caswell James (technical director), JC Widman (stage manager), Emily Schwartz (photos)

Sara Reinecke, Sharriese Hamilton and Anne Sheridan Smith, Tyler Symone, Ted Kitterman, Veronica Garza and Elizabeth Morgan


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Category: 2018 Reviews, Den Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, Lauren Emily Whalen, Musical

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