Joy to the Girls: “9 to 5” at Nazareth College

Girl power and gaudiness abound in “9 to 5,” the final production of the Nazareth College’s Theatre and Dance Department’s 2016-17 season.

Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, with music by Dolly Parton,“9 to 5” tells the story of an unlikely trio of career women, Violet, Judy, and Doralee, who join forces to combat their sexist, arrogant boss, Franklin Hart. In a whirlwind of hilarious events, the women end up taking over the offices of Consolidated Services, and prove that women know a thing or two about taking charge.

The musical itself, is a classic, toe-tapping, happy-ending, can’t-get-the-songs-out-of-your-head, kind of musical. To put it simply: “9 to 5” lacks depth, but is nothing short of entertaining.

As one of Nazareth College’s most challenging productions to date, “9 to 5” does not disappoint technically. With a massive set design by Allen Wright Sherman, gorgeous lighting by Emily Stork, and ostentatious costumes that scream 1980s by Yuanting Zhao, “9 to 5” easily comes to life onstage, in aesthetics alone.

Although the show itself is aesthetically pleasing, it took almost the full first half of Act I for the cast to find its footing, but once they did, they did not disappoint.  As an ensemble driven show, the group numbers are ever alluring, with plenty of dance breaks, quick changes, and energy from the cast.

In terms of leading ladies, Emily Jean Mullin never ceases to amaze in any role, and Violet Newstead is no different.  With robust alto vocals, and a stage presence up to par with that of a veteran actor twice her age, Mullin commands the stage as a seasoned leading lady, and her “One of the Boys” at the top of Act II, leaves you wanting more.

Rounding out the trio of leading ladies are musical theatre majors, Kit Prelewitz and Michaela Groth.  As the naive, ditzy, new girl, Judy Bernly, Prewelwitz delivers a solid and comedic performance, though her usual powerhouse vocals in the 11 o’clock number “Get Out and Stay Out,” are not quite up to Prelewitz’s usual level. Michaela Groth, however, does not get nearly enough chances to showcase her strong, “beltress” vocals, in her adorable, Dolly Parton-esque character, Doralee Rhodes – complete with a blond wig and southern accent.

Opposite these powerful women is the power-wielding boss, Franklin Hart (Demetrio Alomar). In his portrayal of Hart, Alomar almost makes your skin crawl, with his sexist remarks and wandering hands. Contrasting Alomar, Mike Schuetz gives a lovable performance as Joe, the junior accountant pining after Violet Newstead (Mullin).  Shuetz charms his way into the hearts of the audience – and Violet herself – with his flirtatious, nervous portrayal; and though his duet, “Let Love Grow,” is rather forgettable – due to weak vocals on Shuetz’s part – his solid acting performance (almost) makes up for it.

While the show itself was well cast, – hats off to director, Matthew Steffens – the continuous casting of Abby Swanson as a straight-laced supporting role, does not allow for much diversity in her acting style; and as the awkward, lovesick Roz, Swanson delivers a respectable performance, that feels eerily similar to that of Marisa in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” last fall.

Overall, Nazareth College’s production of “9 to 5,” is sure to delight audiences with its catchy songs, beautifully choreographed, ensemble-driven numbers, and its thematic reminder to shatter that (still present) glass ceiling.  Though not without a few hiccups, “9 to 5” set the bar high for future productions at Nazareth College.


There is one more chance to see “9 to 5,” on Sunday, April 23rd at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets start at $13 and are free to Nazareth College students with a Naz I.D.

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