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‘9 to 5’ stage musical a zesty affair

“9 5 The Musical” with its exceptional cast gets rousing staging Marriott Lincolnshire.

“9 to 5, The Musical,” with its exceptional cast, gets a rousing staging at Marriott Lincolnshire.

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‘9 TO 5, THE MUSICAL’

RECOMMENDED

When: Through Oct. 13

Where: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire

Tickets: $40-$48

Info: (847) 634-0200;
marriotttheatre.com

Run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission

Updated: September 24, 2013 6:09AM



And now for a trip back to the 1970s, and a farcical version of the dawning of the age of feminism and its attempt to confront “sexist pigs,” change corporate culture and earn credit where credit is really due. Dream baby, dream. But don’t forget to cover your head before it hits the glass ceiling.

Yes, “9 to 5, The Musical,” now in a zesty, talent-filled production at the Marriott Theatre, is pure, goofy, period-piece fantasy. But it gets the attitudes just right. And because it is the first Broadway effort of Dolly Parton (who transformed the hit 1980 movie in which she starred), it is funny, true, playful and poignant in just the right ways.

As exaggerated as Parton’s persona itself, the show makes its points, yet always supplies the necessary wink that allows an audience to walk away happy. And it is this same spirit that veteran director David H. Bell, brings to his ideally cast Marriott production. The show’s book, by Patricia Resnick (who wrote the original screenplay), is in pure comic-book style, but Parton’s songs have spunk and variety, and are neatly suited to the show’s characters.

“9 to 5” spins around a triumverate of quite different women, all at difficult points in their lives, all working at office jobs at Consolidated Industries, and all subjected to the obnoxious, condescending behavior of Franklin Hart Jr. (James Moye), the company’s compulsively philandering president.

Violet (Kelli Cramer, an actress of exceptional naturalness, warmth and intelligence), is the supremely competent middle-age widow with a teenage son. She runs the office, but will be passed over for a well-earned promotion. And though pursued by a younger, good-looking coworker, Joe (played with easy charm by Ben Jacoby), she is skittish about romance.

Judy (Susan Moniz, who works a subtle transformation that climaxes with the knockout “Get Out and Stay Out”), is a frightened, inexperienced woman who has never had to work. But now, after being dumped by her husband, who has gone off with a 19-year-old, she must find her own way.

And of course there is Doralee (Alexandra Palkovic, an easily watchable bundle of talent and curves in the Parton role, yet very much her own person). A self-professed “Backwoods Barbie,” she must not only fend off Hart’s groping, but convince her resentful co-workers she is not having an affair with him. (A scene in which her “double” emerges from under the desk is one of the show’s best moments.)

The high-energy ensemble, full of office-ready types, never flags. And this fast-moving, end-of-summer revenge frolic easily capitalizes on escapism.

Email: hweiss@suntimes.com

Twitter: @HedyWeissCritic



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