Opening tonight at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts, “9 to 5 the Musical” will give you a break from the winter doldrums with humor and a song, featuring 18 local cast members at the top of their form and debuting Ben Jackson as director.
“The show itself is a very well written show,” Jackson said. “And it’s relatively new. Of course, the movie is from 1980, but in the mid-2000s Miss Dolly Parton started writing new music to go along with the show to make a musical out of it. It opened in Los Angeles in 2008.”
Jackson said they are excited to be presenting the show at LCAA because it is a newer show.
“It made its Broadway debut in 2009 and ran there for a couple years,” he said. “Aside from a couple songs that was written for it, it is a lot like the movie. It is absolutely hilarious, a funny, funny show. Some of the songs reflect that. You’ve got your highs and lows as far as emotional songs that are a product of sub-stories of each character, but you have songs that are absolutely hilarious. Our acting crew is doing an phenomenal job in portraying and performing.”
Although the show is based in 1979, the musical is only only six years old, not an easy catch for LCAA.
“The Liberty Center got the rights to it, and it’s absolutely great that they got such a new show,” Jackson added. “It’s a larger cast show, and I did that on purpose. It’s almost like a Broadway showstopper. It’s got some big money numbers in it, and of course the title song ‘Nine to Five,’ that everybody knows. And it’s the opener and closer of the show and you’ve got to have the voices up there to do it. It was fun casting it, and with this little adventure ride, everybody’s fallen into place and everybody’s worked their character very well.”
The production has three leading ladies, Ruth Hartmeister-Schlomer, playing Violet Newstead, Jessica Jones, playing Doralee Rhoads, and Chaundra Shults, playing Judy Bernly. In the well-known movie “Nine to Five,” Lilly Tomlin played Violet, Dolly Parton played Doralee and Jane Fonda played Judy.
“The talent level of the cast is just out of this world,” Jackson said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve seen here before, this is kind of my directorial debut. I’ve been in several shows down here and I’ve seen some really, really talented casts, but to be at the helm of a cast at this talent level has been nothing short of amazing. There’s not a whole lot that these guys can’t do.”
Jackson said the talent extends beyond just acting for this production, but the cast are also great singers and dancers.
The musical deals with three female co-workers pushed to the limit by their boss who is sexist, egotistical, a liar and a hypocritical bigot. They decide to take control of their company and together they learn they are invincible.
He gave high marks for all his crews and also for the production team.
“If something needs to get done, it gets done,” he said. “It is top notch. Ron Wineinger is our executive director. Ron is my mentor. As far as artistic decisions he has pretty well let me do what I need to do to get the show pulled together. I can’t think of a better guy to have on your first show debut.”
Jackson said Smith-Cotton High School art students in Mike Shukers’ class helped to construct most of the set and painted the backdrops.
“We’ve had a lot of help,” Jackson added. “The talent level his students have, and the hours that they have put in is second to none. They have gone full throttle, a 110 percent to help us out. It’s been a blessing.”
The combination of art students working with local theater is great in bringing community together, Jackson added.
Jackson also gave kudos to Jonathan Rear the costume/wardrobe designer.
“That guy has put in so much time in this show,” Jackson said. “You have a big cast and everybody needs multiple costumes. I said ‘I know you’ll make it look good,’ and he has.”
Rear has worked along with Melinda Moore, Judy Gant and Dolores Woolery.
“They’ve had a real nice collective team,” Jackson added.
“9 to 5 the Musical” begins at 7:30 p.m. March 6, 7 and 8, at 2 p.m. March 9, at 7:30 p.m. March 13, 14, 15, and 2 p.m. March 16. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students 12 and above, and $7 for children 11 and below. Tickets may be purchased at the Liberty Center, 111 W. Fifth St., 827-3228. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.