Sunday, October 12, 2008

9 to 5 - The Musical is Dolly-tastic...

After a night of blustery Santa Ana winds, we awoke to discover a fairly Autumnal Day for L.A.  The temperature has dropped, there was a bit of a breeze and leaves, twigs and branches were strewn across the pavements, so it was the perfect day for a trip to the theatre.
9 to 5 The Musical at the Ahmanson Theatre
After a couple of morning walks with Cooper, we set off to see a 2pm matinee of 9 to 5 - The Musical at the Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown L.A. (along with the rest of the purple rinse brigade it seemed).

9 to 5 is one of my favourite feel-good movies of all time, so it was only natural that I'd want to go and see a musical version once I saw the banners advertising the new show months in advance around L.A.  It's also the first time I've seen anything at the Ahmonson Theatre.
9 to 5 Musical banners on the streets of L.A.
The big question was would it translate from the big screen to the stage?  The answer is a big - Yes!  

The musical premiered in L.A., its initial run from 3rd September to 19th October, so this original cast is still extremely fresh and they have a fantastic energy that many long-running musicals lose over time.  There's also lots of fun and audience pleasing laughs to be had - it's big and bubbly, just like Dolly herself!
Fountain outside the Mark Taper Forum
The three lead characters of Violet, Doralee and Judy are big shoes to fill, having been immortalised by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda respectively in the original movie version, however Allison Janney, Megan Hilty and Stephanie J. Block do a fantastic job bringing these strong female personalities to life on stage.

9 to 5 - The Musical has a lot of things I look for in a theatrical production - great set and costume design, a large talented cast, great dance routines and engaging story.

The Musical remains true to and expands on the source material, tweaking a few of the dream sequences to make them work better on stage and adding some great scenes like Violet's triumphant 'One of the Boys', which really suits Allison Janney's voice, as she hasn't got the strongest vocal range compared to the other leads.  You'll probably recognise her most from TV's The West Wing, where she won four Emmys and four SAG Awards.
9 to 5 The Musical at Ahmanson Theatre L.A.l
'9 to 5' remains the best and most memorable song throughout, but the cast perform all their songs with gusto and you can tell that Stephanie J. Block played 'Elphaba' in the Broadway production of Wicked, as she has a fantastically powerful voice and nails her solo 'Get Out And Stay Out' number in the second Act.

Megan Hilty, another Wicked Broadway star (she played Glinda) also puts in a good performance, emulating Dolly Parton's 'Doralee' competently (fake boobs, hair and all) and her character definitely has a much more sympathetic and enhanced role in the stage show.

The role of Roz, sexist egotist boss Franklin Hart's number one fan and office snitch, is also beefed up and made into a truly comic character.
9 to 5 Musical banners around L.A.
I even recognised one of the office worker cast, Ann Harada who plays Kathy, from her performance as Christmas Eve in Avenue Q, which we saw and absolutely adored in London's West End.

Act Two seems a bit rushed to tie everything up at the end and the '9 to 5' finale could have been a bit stronger (after such a strong build up), but overall it's a great musical.

If you get a chance to see the musical before it comes to an end in L.A. on 19th October you're sure to love it.  If you miss it, it's off to Broadway in 2009 which I'm sure will be another great way to experience the is fun show.

I look forward to seeing another show at the Ahmonson Theatre soon...

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