Archikulture Digest
9 to 5

9 to 5

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton • Directed by Maymee Paul

Theater West End • Sanford, Florida

Of course your job sucks. All jobs suck, it’s just that some pay a bit more.

Working at a generic company sucks, even by theater standards. In 9 to 5, Mr. Hart (Colavolpe) runs a tight ship by groping his female employees and humiliating the boys. He’s even been skimming the books, and all is well until… REVOLUTION! The three leads, Violet, Doralee, and Roz (Amy Hughes, Alexa Boese, and Kelly Mauro) kidnap Hart and tie him up on a garage door opener. With the boss gone, employee satisfaction skyrockets. The new anti-management adds a day care center and even sends a new hire to intensive French school. Bosses: who needs them? Sure, they must do some good as there are a lot around, but I can’t pin anything down on the topic.

This stage version of the Dolly Parton hit single mixes laughter and workers’ rights into a wonderful musical with a happy ending: no one goes to jail, and the old boss gets a new gig in Bosnia. There’s even video commentary from the real Dolly Parton guiding us down the tale, so you know this is no bootleg, under-the-table production stuff here. It’s a high-energy production, and while some of the office equipment is dated, the ennui and misery of minimum wage office work remains.

These jobs sucked in ancient Egypt, and they will suck on the Star Ship Enterprise. Hart’s harassment, double dealing, and belief his is a personal fiefdom aren’t just tropes, they are reality, even in today’s jobs.

The production did pull a punch on the garage stunt, but I know Mr. Colavolpe, and he deserves at least some safety gear. Mauro’s Roz is a true archetype: the woman who keeps everything moving and gets little reward, and certainly not a promotion or actual acknowledged reward. Innocent Violet gives the show’s dynamic a positive slant, and Dora Lee is stuck in the middle between good and evil with no ability to select either.

Occasionally a recorded voiceover from the real Dolly Parton offers advice and even plot points. But I thought that video was more of a detriment to crew on stage: they were good actors and doing their job well, and they were savvy enough to solve their own problems without any deus ex Dolly Parton.

It’s a fine show, and most of us have worked in office jobs and resonate with the on-stage dynamics. No matter how big a jerk Mr. Colavolpe may have been on this stage, I’ve worked for worse. Let’s go down to the break room, I’ll tell you some horror stories.

Theater West End


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