Jewell Theatre presents  “9 to 5: The Musical”


03/08/2022

Jewell Theatre Company, William Jewell College’s resident theatre troupe, will present the TONY-nominated production “9 to 5: The Musical” at 7 p.m. April 7, 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. on April 10 at Peters Theater inside Brown Hall on campus. The music and lyrics were written by Dolly Parton and book was written by Patricia Resnick.

Based on the popular film, “9 to 5” explores themes of women’s liberation through familiar characters, a relatable storyline and unforgettable music. Violet, Doralee and Judy are undervalued and overworked women in business in the late 1970s, that is until they decide to take matters into their own hands. Set in 1979 on the cusp of the feminist movement, this show explores challenges faced by women in the workplace and asks us to consider how much has changed—or not.

This show is directed and choreographed by Dr. Chris McCoy. The vocal direction is by Dr. Lindsey McKee and Dr. Langston Hemenway, who also conducts. Scenic designs are by Professor Nathan Wyman, costume design by Scotty Wiggins, wig design by Julianne Donovan, lights by Zoe Spangler, '18, with additional choreography provided by Amber Cordell.

Tickets for the performance are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, faculty and staff, and $12 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased in the Peters Theater lobby, reserved by calling the box office at 415-7590 or online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5358173?date=2336336.

The Story

The story introduces three office secretaries who are struggling to overcome challenges imposed by their boss, Franklin Hart, who stifles all female progress and productivity. The musical begins when Judy Bernly arrives for her first day of work (ever) after being left by her husband. Violet, a supervisor and company veteran, reluctantly agrees to train her after hearing her story and teaches her all the necessary information: from how to use the copier to knowing who to trust in the office. Violet warns Judy against Hart’s doting administrative assistant, Roz, and of Doralee, who Violet believes is sleeping with the boss. Violet, Doralee and Judy come together in mutual frustration when Violet is passed up for yet another promotion, Doralee finds out that Hart is spreading a rumor that she is sleeping with him, and Judy empathizes with a coworker who is fired after speaking about her salary, which is lower than that of her male counterparts. The three women take the evening off and come up with outlandish fantasies of how to dispose of Hart while intoxicated. The next day, Violet nearly carries out her fantasy by accident. When Roz, the administrative assistant and only female in the office to care for Hart, learns of this error, she tells Hart and begins a tumultuous series of events. The three women then kidnap Hart to keep him from reporting them to the police while they try to find evidence of his financial misdeeds to the company. While they are running the office, they implement changes that improve the work lives of women in the office and produce an overall increase in productivity. 

The film was originally released in December 1980 and was made into a musical in 2008. Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins wrote the original screenplay, based on an idea from Jane Fonda and with stories told by women of the 9to5 Women’s Organization. Patricia Resnick wrote the script for the musical while Dolly Parton composed the music and lyrics. The musical was nominated for four TONY nominations and ran for 148 performances at Marquis Theatre on Broadway from April to September 2009. The show briefly toured in the US and UK, ending in 2013, but returned to the West End in 2019 following the #MeToo movement. Productions were eventually halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite being set 40 years ago, the story continues to resonate with women’s experiences today. The rise of #MeToo movement in 2017 garnered further attention to women’s continued problems with sexual harassment in the workplace. The plight of the three women illustrates how solidarity and determination can be used to overcome struggles in the workplace.