Is there any phrase in the English language as mundane as “working 9 to 5?” Days seem to waste away within the breath it takes to verbalize the phrase. As seniors reveled in each “last” before the start of their post-grad 9 to 5s, the Boston College theatre department staged a production of Patricia Resnick’s musical 9 to 5. At the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, the cast’s performance was anything but mundane.
The musical follows the newly-hired Judy Bernly (Jessie Shaw, MCAS ’19), her boss Violet Newstead (Natalie Marsan, MCAS ’21), and co-worker Doralee Rhodes (Elizabeth Koennecke, MCAS ’19) as they dream of—and eventually unintentionally attempt—ousting the sexist CEO of the company, Franklin Hart (Tristan Horan, MCAS ’21).
The production opened with a rousing musical number that introduced each of the main characters and featured adept blocking on behalf of the director and choreographer David Connolly. Cast members moved different props across the stage, including a moving bed that Doralee rolled out of with a male companion during her verse of the popular Dolly Parton song “9 to 5.” Koennecke stunned in the role of the seductive and sharp southern belle, keeping up a southern accent throughout the entire production and singing with a distinctive twang à la Parton.
Smart set design played a major role in transforming the production into a full experience. A massive clock was projected on the stage for the entirety of the performance, only dissolving when Judy, Violet, and the newly-befriended Doralee smoked weed and discussed the ways in which they would theoretically take down Mr. Hart. While the clock hands usually made their way around the numbers between scenes, the lighting and sound departments highlighted the dissolution of time by projecting smoke on the stage and voicing over sharp inhales between the dream sequences.
Dazzling costumes and props made for a stellar visual experience. Judy’s dream sequence saw her ditch her usually drab work attire for a sparkling silver gown, as she performed a heated partner number with Hart before gunning him down and kicking him into a printer. Doralee’s high took her to the Wild West, where her cowgirl boots danced in front of cacti before hog-tying her pig of a boss on stage.
Bursting at the seams with promiscuous scenes and sex talk made the production much more than just entertaining. Good theatre should provoke, and 9 to 5 was certainly thought-provoking for a BC audience. BC students are not permitted to have sex on campus (technically, anyway), but in one scene Horan brazenly humped his desk while voicing Hart’s burning desire to have his way with Doralee. The smoking scene was another particularly provocative part of 9 to 5, as Shaw was slumped on the couch in perfect stoner form between joint hits. Despite recreational marijuana’s recent legalization in Massachusetts, BC students are not allowed to have weed on campus because BC receives federal funding.
Based on the 1980 film, the themes explored in Resnick’s 2008 9 to 5: The Musical made the production a perfect selection for BC theatre in 2019. Watching Violet and Judy overcome their disdain for the sultry Doralee to finally see her value as a quick-witted and clever woman was not only heart-warming, but also refreshing. A #MeToo era audience is bound to find this theme to be incredibly relevant, and the women’s eventual takedown Hart is just the icing on the cake—the real value in the play lies in the unshakeable bond created between the three protagonists when they take charge of their treatment in the workplace.
The audience sees Violet take a stand against Mr. Hart’s patronizing and frankly agonizing language, Doralee overcomes the sex symbol stereotype, and the once-timid Judy finds confidence in female friendships.
Correction, April 30, 11:11 a.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Mr. Hart was portrayed by Nick Swancott. The actor who portrayed Mr. Hart was in fact Tristan Horan.
Featured Images by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor