CapU Theatre takes its comedy seriously in 9 to 5: The Musical

Production's approach provides a cautionary tale in some ways

CapU Theatre presents 9 to 5: The Musical, The BlueShore at CapU – Birch Building, March 14-23. Tickets: $24/$15/$10. For more details visit capilanou.ca.

Break out the mint green polyester pantsuits, 9 to 5: The Musical is swishing onto the stage in North Vancouver this month, in all its late-1970s glory.

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Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton (book by Patricia Resnick), 9 to 5: The Musical is a rollicking tale of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era.

Opening on Broadway in 2009, the show was nominated for four Tony Awards, including best original score and best new musical.

The plot follows the antics of three female co-workers who come up with a plan to get even with their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss.

Employees Violet Newstead (played by Kailley Roesler), Judy Bernly (Ivania Delgado) and Doralee Rhodes (Elle Reimer) succeed – giving the big man the boot and taking control of the company that had always kept them down.

Despite the feminist “you-go-girl” theme of the 40-year-old storyline, Costume Designer Christopher David Gauthier says the cast of “super-talented” student actors wears the era well.

Fittingly, the musical offers an opportunity for learning.

“It’s a big comedy and there’s lots of fun in it,” Gauthier says, “and yet at the same time, maybe it’s a cautionary tale in some ways. The women get revenge by reverse role objectification. That’s actually not okay.”

He says some aspects of the story were “quite eye-opening” for the actors, “but the cast did a lot of research into the morals and mores of the time to understand the characters.”

For example, Marco Walker-Ng had to dig deep to portray the comedy’s villain, bad boss Franklin Hart Jr.

“He’s a really nice, talented young man who is playing, to put it politely, a cad,” Gauthier laughs. 

Then there was Chris Ward as Dick Bernly, Judy’s ex-husband, who is shockingly sleazy with slicked-back hair and a Boogie Nights-style swagger, Gauthier says.

As for the costuming and set, they are so true to the times, they could be considered part of the ensemble. Gauthier, who allows that he was indeed a 1970s teen, says the fashion used in the play is bang on – down to the high-waisted tight pants and “weird mint green polyester pantsuits” – and includes original pieces from four decades ago.

“For me, one of the best things is I get to work with the costuming program,” Gauthier says. “Capilano University has just a superb program for costuming. So I get encouraged to design big.”

And the talented actors carry it through to quitting time.

“I think they’re a really good cast … it was a learning experience for them. And learning through comedy is probably a good way to go about it.”

Rounding out some of the key roles are Kate Krynowsky as Roz Keith, Hart’s executive assistant; Casey Heyd as Missy Hart, the boss’ wife; and Rachel Scheibel as “the old lush” alcoholic secretary Margaret Foster.

9 to 5: The Musical is directed by Sylvia Zaradic and runs March 14-23 at The Blueshore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts at Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver. Tickets are $24/$15/$10.

CapU Theatre showcases the work of university students from the Acting for Stage and Screen, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre and Costuming programs.

 

 

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