By Merle Exit
Rockaway Theatre Company’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical,” with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and the book by Patricia Resnick, is based on the 1980 hit movie, with a few exceptions.
Set in the late 1970s, it is a tale of both friendship and revenge in what might be termed as “the Xerox era.”
Pushed to the boiling point, three female coworkers, Violet Newstead (Luisa Boyaggi), Judy Bernly (Jessie Carina Lanza) and Doralee Rhodes (Courtney Sanello) devise a plan to get even with what they refer to as their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss, Franklyn Hart, Jr. (Roger Gonzalez). Living out their wildest fantasies of getting rid of him, they keep him literally tied up while they take over the workplace and give it a makeover.
The opening song, “9 to 5,” gives us an energetic glimpse of the cast, particularly Violet, Doralee and Judy, the new employee who admits that she is unqualified for her secretarial job and that her husband left her for a younger woman.
Judy is then introduced to her pompous boss, who immediately asks her to fetch him a cup of coffee. Doralee comes in for dictation and Hart’s flirtation begins with an interruption from his wife, Missy.
While in the filing room, Joe (Brian Sadowski), a junior accountant asks Violet out and is rejected. I don’t recall this character in the movie version and did not necessarily find that he added much to the story.
Skipping ahead to the secretarial pool where the women are preparing for lunch, a co-worker, Maria, is convinced that the men make more money than the women. Doralee asks if anyone wants to grab lunch as the others turn her down. It appears that Hart has been telling everyone that Doralee is sleeping with him, which is why she is being shunned.
Adding to the demeaning of women, Violet is passed over for another promotion, which is instead given to a man who she trained.
Roz Keith (Marisol Velasquez), Hart’s administrative assistant and right-hand tattle tale, tells him of Maria’s attempt to discover the truth about the salary discrepancy in the office. Hart fires Maria as Roz admits her undying feelings for Hart.
Violet, Doralee and Judy, who are upset by Maria’s firing, take a coffee break in Violet’s living room, smoking “Mary Wanna.” This is when their imaginations run wildly revengeful. Judy imagines a film-noir-style dance that ends with a stiletto in Hart’s crotch. Doralee imagines lassoing him and branding him — permanently. And Violet drums up a fairy tale where she is brewing him a magic, poisonous potion.
The last one almost comes true, as Violet mistakenly pours rat poison into Hart’s coffee instead of the sweetener with a similar box.
The entire cast and crew of over 30 members showed a tremendous amount of professionalism throughout the show, which consisted of two directors, Susan Warren Corning and Catherine Leib.
Corning has been around quite a long time, directing — and sometimes starring in — many of the Rockaway Theatre Company’s shows. For “9 to 5,” she decided to share the director role with Leib, who is making her directorial debut.
“At first, I was the assistant director,” Leib said. “About halfway into rehearsals Susan was giving me more responsibilities resulting in the title of co-director. It was a whole new world and experiencing both points of view as well as being able to bring across Susan’s vision.”
Leib also acts and will be taking over the role of Judy for the rest of the show’s performances.
Boyaggi, Sanello, and Lanza were spot on when it came to singing, acting and dancing under the leadership of musical director Paolo C. Perez, the orchestra and choreographer Nicola DePierro-Nellen.
Velasquez stole the spotlight when she belted out the song, “Heart to Hart.”
Needless to say, if it wasn’t for supporting cast’s incredible talent, the show would not have been such a success. Ashley Ann Jones, Frank Freeman, Adam Davis, David Risley, Eileen Farrell, Jodie Timpone, and the dance ensemble really helped the production flourish.
Stage managers Dante Rei and Nora Meyers, scenic designer Frank Calati, and the rest of the crew also deserve recognition for a job well done.
“9 to 5: The Musical” continues its run this weekend. You can catch performances at the Post Theatre (Building T4) in Rockaway Point on Friday, (8 p.m.), Saturday ( 8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) this weekend. There are also performances scheduled for Aug. 3 (8 p.m.), Aug. 4 (8 p.m.), and Aug. 5 (2 p.m.).
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. For more information, call (718) 374-6400 or visit www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org.