9 to 5 - Original Broadway Cast Recording

by Robert Bullen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 2, 2009

9 to 5 - Original Broadway Cast Recording

As many reviews have already noted, the new musical 9 to 5 is a fun, yet ultimately disappointing, effort. While I haven't seen the show, based on the new Broadway cast recording, I can understand why.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy listening to this cast recording - I did. However, I don't think I'll ever need to listen to it again, as there are far better scores to listen to during those precious moments in my day to enjoy music.

This doesn't mean I only enjoy Stephen Sondheim, Rogers and Hammerstein, Adam Guettel and the like. I love the scores to Legally Blonde, the Musical and Hairspray, for example. My tastes, as far as musicals go, are pretty eclectic. I wanted to like 9 to 5 more than I did.

Dolly Parton has assembled some fun, toe-tapping tunes for this musical adaptation of the 1980 movie. The liner notes reveal that Parton didn't feel entirely suited to act as composer and lyricist for a musical comedy. However, after some cajoling, she dove in, as is her well-earned reputation, with endless energy and determination.

The result is a score that doesn't quite foot the bill. I love you, Dolly, but your lyrics aren't the most engaging for a musical. The extremely capable cast, featuring Megan Hilty, Stephanie J. Block and Allison Janney, does their best to play out emotional milestones with phrases such as:

    I am proud to tell you, I'm really doing good

    I'm sure a whole lot better than you ever thought I would

    Got my own place, my own space, where I can dream and plan

    It took me this long to realize I do not need a man

Furthermore, these down-home lyrics don't match up with the character singing them -- a suburban divorcee.

That said, the music is fun! I just wish someone could have guided Ms. Parton into writing a set of lyrics that moved beyond pedestrian rhyme schemes and clich?d similes. While each song may work as a standalone number, a bunch of charming tunes doesn't make for a compelling musical score.

Also, the overly manipulated arrangements (there are five people credited for music arrangements) give the whole affair a bloated feeling. For example, nearly every phrase seems to have a loud gospel chorus chiming in - even in the featured numbers for the three women. Just let the women sing already!

Many of my fellow musical theatre friends tell me I have to see the show to fully appreciate the score, and I respect that. The tour is set to launch in 2010, and I hope to catch it then. In the meantime, the Broadway production of 9 to 5 has recently posted a closing notice for Sept 6, 2009.

A native midwesterner, Robert is a self-confessed Chicago theatre addict. You can read more about his addiction at chitheatreaddict.com