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Shenandoah's "9 to 5"

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

The second musical in the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre's 2012 season, "9 to 5 The Musical" is packed with laughs and good music, according to its cast and its director, Hal Herman.

"It's a really fun play about three women who work for this company and are ruled by a very..." Herman said, pausing to choose his words, "... sexually aggressive boss, and it's a play of [a] time when women were just secretaries and considered definitely below the men in the company."

"It was a very popular movie in the late '70s," he said, "... and to be exact it was very successful and very funny.".

Robin Higginbotham plays Violet, the office manager who reports directly to the boss.

"She's very good at her job and trying to get ahead," Higginbotham said. Still, the boss passes her over for promotions, so she feels neglected, she said.

The boss, Franklin Hart Jr., is a jerk, said actor Ted Anderson.

In the musical he asks, "Is it because I'm a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot?" Anderson said. "It's a situation where he's in charge. He sort of rules over this office and he does what he wants to do."

But ... "He gets his, at some point," Anderson said. It isn't long before the women in the office begin to fantasize about how to do away with Franklin.

"It's totally fun," Higginbotham said.

"It's goofy," Anderson agreed.

"It's very funny," said Higginbotham. "It's just, you know, played out in a fun way."

Whitney Warrenfeltz, who plays Brooke Wyndham in "Legally Blonde," the first in the summer series, will play Doralee, Dolly Parton's character from the movie.

"She's very smart," Warrenfeltz said. Doralee and Brooke are almost opposites, she said, since Brooke relates her self-worth to her looks, and Doralee aspires to be more than her looks.

Libby Ingham plays Judy, a newly divorced woman who has spent her entire marriage living for others and now feels she successfully has escaped her husband.

She needs to "figure out that she can do things for herself," Ingham said. "She doesn't need a man to make her a whole person."

The musical takes place in 1979, so cast members said that plot lines will resonate differently with today's audience than it did at the time.

"I think some of the jokes land better with this time," Warrenfeltz said. In the play, the office gets a fancy new typewriter, which was state of the art but today is archaic, she said.

As for office politics, "It's not as much with the women or men thing anymore," Higginbotham said. "But it also makes you appreciate how far we've come."

More than the characters or the comedic plot twists, what cast members praise is the music.

"The songs," Herman said, "are all new and written [for the play] but they were all written by Dolly Parton, and I think it's a lovely score. Really, really nice.".

Said Higginbotham, "I think the music's great. I think it's catchy, you want to sing along. It's memorable."

The cast also agreed on the musical's need for parental discretion.

"I think it has a good moral and it's fun," Herman said, but it's not a plot line for young children.

"You have obsession in it and of course you have a man who's chasing after a woman and trying to get his way because she's just a secretary, and he's the boss," Herman said. "There's some obscene language, not horrible."

"If you have your children and you're concerned about language and subject matter then you might want to check it out and see more what it's like," Herman said.

Ingham agreed, "There'll be a lot of humor that will go over little kids' heads."

Dolly Parton's "9 to 5 The Musical" will run from June 27 through July 8 at the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre at Shenandoah University in Winchester. For tickets and information, call the box office at 665-4569 or visit shenandoahsummermusictheatre.com.

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