Theater Review: DHT's 9 To 5 The Musical

Photo: Diamond Head Theatre

There were good reasons the Broadway stint of "9 To 5: The Musical" closed after only six months in 2009. Unfortunately, not many of the problems have been fixed in this latest version from Diamond Head Theatre.

Don't get me wrong: the cast and crew have obviously worked tirelessly at getting the multiple scene changes and songs down pat (the band—under the musical direction of icon Emmett Yoshioka—is hot!), but it's a sort of hard-working journeyman's presentation rather than the effortless expression of joy we should've been seeing.

Except for a few surprise stand-outs (Stacey Pulmano, as Hart's romantically obsessed assistant, Roz Keith, consistently showed the sort of comic timing the show needed throughout, and Samantha Stoltzfus, as the office drunk, Margaret Pomerance, injected key moments of wry humor), the cast demonstrated clear passion and competence but didn't quite sizzle.

The production is an adaptation of the 1980 film made famous by Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in 1980. Franklin Hart Jr. (Mike Humerickhouse) is the oafish, lecherous president of Consolidated Industries, at which the three unlikely "secretaries" converge (Violet, played by Jennifer Sojot, Doralee, played by Jessica Cruz, and Judy, played by Jody Bill). They each dislike their office jobs to differing degrees, and in a very contrived storyline, find themselves thrown together in a complicated plot to take over Consolidated Industries (and strike a blow for women's liberation).

Some of the problems are structural and cannot fairly be laid at the feet of DHT: the story lacks organization, believability, and in general seems too "busy"; the multiple scene changes are handled professionally, but due to their sheer number are a distraction to the audience; and (perhaps required due to contractual arrangements) I found Dolly Parton's video presence both at the beginning and at the end to be a rude intrusion on that sacred space which is the stage, where we should be willingly  suspending our disbelief (we all know Dolly's not actually on that stage, even though she used to own a restaurant and home in Hawaii).

But, some of the problems were production-related and staged by director Tammy Colucci. Many times the environment seemed crowded—with desks, ensemble members, set pieces, etc.; the opening number, "9 To 5," should've really popped but didn't; and the scene where Margaret calls to compare her salary to a man's is confusing and needed a spotlight.

However, local audiences are forgiving and if you take the music and the production for what it is—some fluffy ear and eye candy—you won't notice that two-and-a-half hours have gone by.

"9 To 5: The Musical," Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave., 733-0274, Showtimes through Apr. 14  (Thursday – Saturday 8 p.m.;  Sunday 4 p.m.; Saturday matinees 3 p.m. on Apr. 6 and 13).


Jackie M. Young has been a freelance writer since 2007, and has been involved in acting, radio and TV for many years. She is a UH graduate.