Sunday, September 16, 2012

- Theater Review - 9 to 5 the Musical

Featuring the regional premier of "9 To 5 - The Musical", Peoria Players Theater opened their 2012 - 2013 season not with a bang but with a whimper.

"9 To 5 - the Musical" is based on the 1980 movie "9 to 5" starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda as three downtrodden office workers who become feminist heroes when they kidnap their mean chauvinistic boss (Dabney Coleman) and take over the company.

The stage adaptation adds musical numbers but follows the movie perhaps too closely, even using exact dialog from the film. 
In many ways this sets up a difficult challenge for the actors.  After all, Dolly Parton has awfully big ... shoes ... to fill.

There are aspects of the Players production that  should  have resulted in a fine show, but in the end it simply did not come together.

All the principals have good voices and for the most part delivered their songs well.  (Choreography, well, that's another story!)

Rachel Lewis as Doralee (the Dolly role) delivered well vocally but plodded through her numbers with a lack of energy and enthusiasm.  The number "Back Woods Barbie" is all about confidence in her identity.  It should have been a fun and rollicking number but Ms. Lewis barely cracked a smile and made it seem like a chore.

Kelli Mathis as Violet suffered from the same timidity.  Her dance numbers were painful to watch as I could almost see her counting her steps, stone faced. 

I suppose this can be chalked up to the direction.
Perhaps Director Nate Downs concentrated too much on technique rather than encouraging his actors to let go, inhabit their roles, and have fun.

The third lead, Katie McLuckie as Judy had just the opposite problem as the other two.  Her take on the character was way too much confidence!
Ms. McLuckie wowed us a season or two ago with her exceptional portrayal of Kitty in "The Drowsy Chaperone".  While that role is all about "mugging for the camera", her Judy would have been much better if dialed back a notch.

I couldn't help but imagine that the show would have been vastly improved if Ms. McLuckie and Ms. Mathis had switched roles.

The one actor who got the correct mix of technique and confidence was Carolyn Briggs-Gaul as Roz.  She stole the show with her strip-tease number on the boss' desk. 
It was the show-stopper of the evening!

Despite the problems with this show, the audience (one of the smallest houses I have seen at Peoria Players) gave the performance a standing ovation. 

I realize that an opening night audience is probably heavy with friends and families of the performers who felt obligated to give a pity ovation.

However, it drives this theater snob crazy that Peoria Players patrons think EVERY show there merits a standing ovation.  This one just didn't.

Anyone who would stand for this production has spent too many hours on the sofa anticipating the antics of Honey Boo-Boo.



Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul... always enjoy your take on things.

Anonymous said...

Many of your points are spot-on...however I wonder, do you people watch at the local parks and restaurants too just to pick the common person or audience apart for the way they follow their respective emotions and opinions? And Honey Boo-Boo, seriously? If you don't think your own review stands alone on substance please don't make pop culture references to make yourself sound relevant, the reality is far from it.

Anonymous said...

The word "suppose" shows just what a wonderful journalist you are.

Paul R Day said...

Anonymous #1 - Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous #2 - Honey Boo-Boo is a perfect example of how low the bar has gotten for what passes for entertainment. Perhaps you can assist James Cameron and Randy Newman in raising that bar. (OOPS! Sorry...another pop culture reference!)

Anonymous #3 - You must be new here. I have stated repeatedly that I am not a journalist; I am not a critic; I am a patron with an opinion. If you are looking for professional journalism or professional criticism, then this not the site for you! I SUPPOSE that you are implying that the word is used incorrectly or improperly but it is not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback...however Cameron & Newman haven't been pop culture references since '96 (you're slipping). My true issue for re-visiting your blog with my commentary this time around though is to address the fact that you say you are "not a critic"...WHAT??? Being opinionated or having an opinion, expounding on it in a public forum, regardless if your viewpoint is positive OR negative is critical. Thus your critical "opinion" as you put it, deems you a critic. Many items showcased on your blog such as event notices and personal day by day accounts are not...however when you give your blog "opinion" in point by point manner and voice how you feel it could have been different, better, worse, are most certainly a critic. - Anon#2.

Paul R Day said...

1996?! You are the one slipping, Dear.

The most recent South Park (premiered after this post) was about how Honey Boo-Boo had lowered the bar so far that John Cameron and Randy Newman took to the ocean depths to try to raise it. Get with the program!

A critic is one who is compensated in some way for his/her opinion. I am a patron (i.e. one who supports the arts through subscription, purchase, and/or donation) and I have an opinion and I have a blog.
The blog has my name on it and I get weary of ANONYMOUS comments. I got so much nasty communication after my review of the awful direction of "Oklahoma" at PPT that I had to temporarily suspend comments and delete the obscene ones.
(Is that you still holding a grudge, BB?)

If you don't have the balls to leave your real name and email, then I urge you to please go elsewhere for theater reviews and avoid this site.