Review: GCP’s ‘9 to 5’ full of sweet harmony


The Gainesville Community Playhouse production of “9 to 5” features, from left, Amanda Edwards as Violet, Leannis Maxwell as Judy Bernly and Britney Kelly as Doralee, three working women who turn the tables on their sexist boss. (Ashley Crane/Correspondent)

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.

The box office magic that was the 1980 comedy “9 to 5” was largely due to the chemistry between three superstars; Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton.

Facts

‘9 to 5’

What: Gainesville Community Playhouse production of musical based on the 1980 film
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Vam York Theater, 4039 NW 16th Blvd.
Tickets: $16, $10 for students with ID
Info: 376-4949, gcplayhouse.org

In The Gainesville Community Playhouse’s version of the 2008 musical “9 to 5” it’s not chemistry, but sweet harmony that carries this production aloft and keeps it there.

When Amanda Edwards (Violet), Brittney Kelly (Doralee) and Leannis Maxwell (Judy) raise their voices in an against-all-odds vow to overcome the harassment of a male-dominated circa-1979 workplace (“I Just Might”), you really want to believe that ... well, that they just might.

In short, these people know how to belt one out, and they do exactly that.

And what a happy accident that this production coincides with the new season premier of AMC’s “Mad Men,” itself an ode to the sort of corporate knuckle-draggers who made office-life miserable for women like Violet, Doralee and Judy. In a battle of wits and wills one imagines that the gals of “9 to 5” would easily hold their own.

Violet is the much put-upon office manager who aspires to the executive suite and secretly longs to be “One Of The Boys.” Embracing the role, Edwards deflects the barbs and arrows that daily come her way with a nicely understated sense of irony. “Did you see my memo regarding superfluous memos?” she wryly asks Roz, the abrasive office snitch and “Red Hot Mama” wannabe nicely played by Katie Crozier-Theis.

Doralee is a self-professed “Backwoods Barbie” with a core of steel. And Kelly plays her with a Dolly Pardon-like husky voice and country twang that feels not at all contrived.

And as Judy, the abandoned wife turned inept secretary, Maxwell evolves in fits and starts from mousy to militant, finally mustering the grit to order her still-hovering ex to “Get Out and Stay Out.”

Not to be missed is Franklin Hart Jr., the “sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot” played with wicked gusto by actor Matt Sherman. Who wouldn’t want to strap this office sleazeball into a complicated harness and leave him dangling in some dark room? Maybe forever.

And then there is the ensemble.

It takes guts for a community theater to tackle a big-time Broadway musical that requires a lot of space to maneuver and a large cast of supporting actors, singer and dancers. In this instance there are as many as 21 people on stage at any given time, and sometimes it feels like there are even more. They glide on and off stage, doing double duty, now as office drones, now as tuxedo-clad chorus dancers, now as spouses, police and hospital workers, and frequently as stagehands.

That all this entering and exiting is accomplished seamlessly and seemingly without contrivance is a credit to director Rhonda Wilson and choreographers Kevin Anderson and Hannah Stahmer.

Not to mention stage managers Kathy McGlone and Kristin Paulson. “9 to 5” unfolds in rapid-pace order over the course of 21 scenes requiring multiple sets; by turns an office, a morgue, a seedy nightclub, a bedroom, a ladies room and more. The curtain seldom drops to conceal all of this onstage shape-shifting, and watching it is part of the fun.

And this production is fun. The cast and crew of GCP’s “9 to 5” have offered up a very large “cup of ambition” indeed.

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