The world of Broadway musicals has always been filled with adaptations of television shows along with films. In a way, this makes things a lot easier. Why? Theatre is much more freeing. While productions do not cost anywhere near the big budgets of say, a Steven Spielberg flick, actors are not confined to standing in certain places for the camera. Plus, the interaction with a live audience can be a thrilling experience.
One of the more recent shows to appear on the Great White Way is 9 to 5 the Musical, based on the film with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. Dabney Coleman is also known for his role, although he was never intended to be in a starring part.
Dolly Parton writes the score for the stage version. Since she is also part of the film, her job is pretty much taken care of. However, contributing one or two more songs is not a bad idea.
Dolly Records put together the Original Broadway Cast Recording of 9 to 5: The Musical. If the producers of this show wanted to get actors who are reminiscent of the movie actors in the same roles, they succeeded. The only problem is having the actors sing in full character. Now, presumably, anyone who is cast in a Broadway show has decent vocal chops. I just think sometimes the songs do not reflect their true abilities.
"9 to 5" is the show opener, and the one song most people recognize. The entire cast sings. Stephanie J. Block, who plays Judy (think Jane Fonda), is the standout voice. Judy shares her personal life with the audience in an attitude of determination and perseverance. After hearing her, you like her that much more.
Whoever cast Marc Kudisch in the Dabney Coleman role of Frankin Hart did a great job! The first time he solos is on "Here for You". Talk about a solid baritone voice. It says not to ignore this guy. The vocal strength alone is enough to put him in Tony consideration.
Kathy Fitzgerald first can be heard in "Around Here", where Judy is getting her introduction to the office. Fitzgerald handles the role of officious Roz, Hart's assistant, with the right notes of nitpicky and alpha female.
However, Fitzgerald shines best in "Heart to Hart" where she envisions herself as the only woman Hart ever needs. The song is campy, but audiences are going to smile at Roz and her efforts.
Megan Hilty, who is Doralee, could not be anybody but the person Dolly Parton played in the movie. She has the hardest role vocally. Trying to pull off Broadway lyrics and music isn't easy. The gentle pleading in "Backwoods Barbie" does much to reinforce the idea of there being more to her than meets the eye.
Allison Janney is perhaps the most well known actress in the entire production. Formerly of the television show The West Wing, this is Janney's first adventure in song. As Violet, the part played by Lily Tomlin in the film, Janney does not quite carry off the vocals. It might have something to do with the way the songs are set up. However, "One of the Boys" works for her voice decently enough.
This CD with its selection of tunes gives anyone who listens a clear insight as to how the show is performed. There are stronger productions out on Broadway, but this grouping is not too bad for what it has. Solid casting more than likely helps draw in a crowd night after night.