You think you know what you’re going to get when you settle into your seat for “9 to 5: The Musical,” playing through Jan. 19 at Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs.
Who could blame you? After all, “9 to 5” is a brand, burnished in our minds by the terrific triumvirate of Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in the 1980 monster hit movie comedy.
But you don’t know. You just really don’t.
Unlike the funny film, the accompanying No. 1 song or even the 1980s television series, the stage version has a huge problem: It isn’t funny.
Parton has done her part. The campy country chart-topper’s score is cute and catchy, if not a bit obvious with many of the lyrics.
But the book by Patty Resnick, co-writer of the original film, has all the humor of an interoffice memo — and a fraction of the charm. The cast at Stage Door tries awfully hard to give the lead weight of the show some illusion of buoyancy. But all they have to work with are some stale penis jokes that went all impotent on us..again and again. I timed it: The first big laugh came 38 minutes into the first act. The show is two hours and has a 15-minute intermission.
Following the movie closely and set in the late 1970s, the musical is a paean to female empowerment in the corporate world. After a whirlwind rendition of the title song, timid doormat Judy (Jennifer Hope) arrives for her first day at Consolidated Industries as a secretary, even though she can’t type or work a copier. She’s taken under the wing of uber-efficient but warmly supportive Violet (Katie Angell Thomas). Meanwhile, buxom spitfire Doralee (Jessica Crilley) is dodging the unwanted advances from boss-from-hell Mr. Hart (Shane R. Tanner). Hart’s spy-slash-lieutenant is office manager Roz (Cindy Pearce, who scores that first laugh with her song “Heart to Hart”).
The rest is a tale of revenge where — after making the office a model of immobility, blackmail, sexism, harassment, bullying and capricious termination — Hart ends up kidnapped and tied up in Violet’s home. In between, are some cute songs delivered with zest in that stare-upward-swallow-step-forward-sing sort of way.
Director Dan Kelley knows how to stage with a stylish eye. The geometrical Mondrian-paneled set and corporate-chic costumes work well, even if there is a bit of a what-the-wig gag going on with the hair. With a better script, he could have had a feel-good, finger-snapper blossoming from the fertile ground of a proven property. Instead, “9 to 5: The Musical” is a wholly resistible show.
IF YOU GO
9 to 5: The Musical
When: Through Jan. 19; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
Where: Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs
Cost: $38; $16 for students
Contact: 954-344-7765 or StageDoorTheatre.com.
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