Wright State presents comical ‘9 to 5’

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Wright State presents comical ‘9 to 5’

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(left to right) Meredith Zahn (Judy Bernly), Bailey Edmonds (Violet Newstead), and Natalie Girard (Doralee Rhodes) are featured in Wright State University’s production of Dolly Parton’s musical comedy “9 to 5” March 16-April 2 in the Creative Arts Center. CONTRIBUTED

Revenge and solidarity are on the menu as Wright State University presents Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick’s 2009 Tony Award-nominated musical comedy “9 to 5” beginning Thursday, March 16, in the Festival Playhouse of the Creative Arts Center.

Based on the hit 1980 film and set in the corporate world of the late 1970s, “9 to 5” unites Violet Newstead, Doralee Rhodes and Judy Bernly in one accord as the sassy trio attempts to bring down their sexist, egotistical boss Franklin Hart, Jr. After fantasizing about killing Franklin, they ultimately kidnap him leading to blackmail, hilarity and mayhem.

In addition to Parton’s bubbly Academy Award-nominated title tune, she wrote many new songs for the stage version including “Backwoods Barbie,” “One of the Boys,” “Always a Woman,” “Change It,” and “Get Out and Stay Out.” The Broadway production notably featured Dayton native and seven-time Emmy Award-winner Allison Janney, who won the Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of Violet.

“There are many reasons why we decided to do this show,” said director Greg Hellems, who previously staged WSU’s “Hot Mikado” and “Oklahoma!” “Women get a chance to be showcased, the material is contemporary which allows our students an opportunity to attempt something other than the Golden Age chestnuts, and everyone loves Dolly Parton. But more importantly, this show has themes and ideas in it that are always worth talking about. Considering the year we’ve had, everything in the show is much more poignant and relevant than perhaps it has been in a long time.”

WSU selected “9 to 5” a year before current events shaped the landscape fueling heated debates and passionate protests across the globe. Hellems particularly cites recent National Public Radio reports detailing crucial issues women are still grappling with on a daily basis.

It’s all about empowerment

“This show is about empowerment in the face of a patriarchal society that’s dismissive of women,” he said. “Sexual harassment is a big theme of the show. Pay and equality are still big concerns in the workplace. It’s great for WSU to be able to reflect something that feels relevant and contemporary while also skewering things to our own delight by letting women win in the end. We’re also exploring darker ideas within a comic frame which makes it all the more palpable for the audience.”

“This is a special story that transcends generations,” echoed Natalie Girard, who portrays Doralee (the Dolly Parton role in the film) and was a standout in WSU’s “Miss Mayor” and “Heathers: The Musical.” “When the film version came out depicting the reality of discrimination in the workplace, it was revolutionary. I think many people can still relate to being the underdog working for an unfair boss.”

The principal cast includes Bailey Edmonds as Violet, Meredith Zahn as Judy, Joey Logan as Franklin, Emily Chodan as Roz Keith, Zach Fretag as Joe, and Joey Kennedy as Josh. Ensemble members include Tristan Allen, Danielle Bessler, Emma Buchanan, Eli Davis, Robin Dunavent, David Emery, Christine Fiala, Rachel Green, Colin Hodgkin, Mackenzie Kasbaum, Joseph Lampe, Grace Liesch, Alejandra Solis, Michaella Waickman, and Cody Westbrook. Swings are Dylan Tracker and Brianna Russ.

The creative team includes choreographer Megan Wean Sears, set designer Michael S. Brewer, lighting designer Jessica Drayton, costumer Emily Sollinger, properties by John Lavarnway, and sound designer Alex Koker.

“What I love most about this show is that it highlights the journey of three unalike women who find strength through an unexpected sisterhood and shine an important light on equal opportunity for women in the workplace,” Girard said.

WANT TO GO?

What: “9 to 5: The Musical”

Where: Creative Arts Center Festival Playhouse of Wright State University, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Fairborn

When: March 16-April 2; March 16, 22, 23 and 30 at 7 p.m.; March 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and April 1 at 8 p.m.; March 19, 25, 26, April 1 and 2 at 2 p.m.

Cost: $22 for adults; $20 students and seniors.

More info: (937) 775-2500 or visit www.wright.edu/theatre-tickets

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