Thursday, May 23, 2019

REVIEW: "9 to 5" at Lubbock Community Theatre

Kelsie Curry, Erin Castle, Annie Burge,
and Chad Anthony Miller
by Shane Strawbridge

Toe-tapping music. Fun choreography. Witty jokes. So what's not to like? In Lubbock Community Theatre’s production of 9 to 5, issues with mics and the sound system overshadow an otherwise strong showing from director Heather May.

9 to 5, based on the 1980 film of the same name (with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick), follows three female coworkers as they concoct a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot they call their boss. Along the way, the show evokes thoughts of the #metoo movement and the battles still being fought daily by women both in and out of the workplace. The score by Parton has its share of toe-tappers (although not every tune is a winner), but the book by Resnick seems determined to forego the strong feminist revenge plot of the movie in favor of slapstick and innuendo.

Even so, the cast gives strong performances with the material they have been given. As the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss Hart, Chad Anthony Miller does his best to make misogyny charming. His lascivious, over-sexed performance is an exercise in watching him bounce between restraint and inappropriate abandon, walking the line between charming and piggish—and he does it all well. As brown-noser Roz, Anna Ruth Aaron-DeSpain gets one of the shows stand-out songs in “Heart to Hart”, and she performs it with joyous aplomb. Travis Burge as love interest Joe only gets one opportunity to shine late in the show, but he makes the most of it with his sweet tenor voice proclaiming all the ways “Love Can Grow.”

But the show would be nothing if it weren’t for the success of the three female leads. As office newcomer Judy, Annie Burge shows off a strong vocal instrument along with a bubbly, if na├»ve, demeanor. She is light when it is called for, strong when required, and gives the right dose of emotion in the show’s most tender moments. As the supposed office floozy Doralee, Kelsie Curry is delightful. Her voice cuts clearly throughout the theatre (even during the many times when the sound system failed her), and her “cowgirl” sensibility is endearing and worth cheering for. Erin Castle’s Violet is delightfully monotone in many of the show’s moments. That isn’t to say that watching her is boring—far from it. Her low vocal register is a well-honed weapon, ready to strike a barb at her opponents at any moment. Director Heather May and Music Director Ian Klotzman get good work from their cast—if only issues with the sound system didn’t prevent us from hearing it.

Aside from the aforementioned issues with the sound, the technical elements all contribute well to the performance. Set design by Gatlin Alldredge is simple, relying mostly on pieces rather than a full-blown set, but there is strength in the simplicity (and a huge shout-out to the running crew—Zoe Purkeypile, Harrison Black, Randy Cook, Brianna Moody, and Jeff Shirey—for some smooth set changes). Costumes by Carol Fowler, Pattie Campbell, and Diane Bancroft are appropriately reminiscent of the late 1970s, and they have a few surprises up their sleeves that I won’t spoil here.

Sound issues aside, 9 to 5 is a quick shot of nostalgia and a sure crowd-pleaser. Come for the Dolly Parton tunes, pour yourself a cup of ambition, and stay for the show. Revenge has never tasted so sweet—just make sure that sweetener isn’t actually rat poison.

9 to 5 runs through May 26 at the Firehouse Theatre (LHUCA), 511 Avenue K in Lubbock. For tickets and more information, visit the Lubbock Community Theatre website.

1 comment:

  1. Don’t forget Tamara Smith as Choreographer! She did an amazing job!!