9 to 5: The Musical
Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles
“If you liked 9 to 5 the film, you’re going to love the musical,” said Jay Reiner in Reuters. The pop-feminist comedy from 1980, in which three low-level female employees take revenge on their crude, male chauvinist boss, has always seemed like a musical waiting to happen. That’s largely due to Dolly Parton’s foot-stomper of a theme song, which features prominently here. Parton, who also starred in the film, has composed the musical’s score, and “her songwriting skills along with her desire to dazzle in whatever she does” seem tailor-made for Broadway.
To make that leap, director Joe Mantello is going to have to put in some overtime, said Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times. The problem isn’t with the music or the performances. Though “the original trio of Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Parton is hard to beat,” here Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block, and Megan Hilty more than hold their own. But writer Patricia Resnick, who also wrote the original work, “hasn’t figured out how to stay true to the film’s commercially packaged radicalism while bouncing between gag-ridden spoof and sentimental songs.” But with some judicious cuts and tweaks, 9 to 5 could be an enduring hit.