Pictured Above: Allie O’Connor, Abby Tyler and Katie Garthe shake up Mr. Hart’s office as Judy, Violet and Doralee. | Anthony Graziano photo for NFCT

If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen the hit 1980 film “9 to 5,” about a trio of female secretaries getting their revenge against their sexist boss, now’s a great time to revisit this story, and a great place to do so is at Mattituck’s North Fork Community Theatre, whose Youth on Stage troupe is putting up “9 to 5: The Musical” through August 6.

Be warned, if you work in an office, that this might be a rude awakening as to how little in offices has changed in the more than four decades since this plot was hatched. Take heart, though, that these young actors bring all the spunk and sass that Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin brought to the the film. They may not be old enough to have worked in offices themselves, but you can tell from the way they interact with these roles that they have a first-hand understanding of the ways a toxic work environment can crush dreams.

The story in this musical adaptation, with songs and lyrics by Dolly Parton, which ran briefly on Broadway in 2009, is true to the film, and the songs add more heart to a story that is already brimming with it.

This ensemble cast is up to the task.

The trio of troublemakers is perfectly cast — Abby Tyler as Violet, the detail-oriented widow and mother of a teenage son whose wildest dreams are of becoming a CEO; Katie Garthe as the feisty and capable southern belle Doralee Rhodes and Allie O’Connor as Judy, the tender divorcee being broken quickly by her first real job.

Konstantin Kipshidze takes smarminess to heart as their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss Franklin Hart, Jr., fond of such zingers as “What do you call a woman who’s lost 95 percent of her intelligence? Divorced.” He seems glad we love to hate him. That’s his job.

Jocelyn Podlas plays Hart’s sycophantic secretary Roz with aplomb wryness. Quinn Bruer is tender and lovable as Joe from accounting, as is Anderson Hipp as Doralee’s sweet husband Dwayne. Good guys exist here, and they make the excesses of the bad guy so much more obscene. 

An ensemble of dancers posing as secretaries, including Kate Pomroy, Kathleen Kelly and Olivia Trant add just the right innovative touches to numerous numbers, including the stunningly tender ballad “I Just Might,” in which the dancers respond expressively to the trio’s heartaches in front of the theater’s video wall, which plays a montage of the quest  for women’s rights, from the days of Rosie the Riveter to recent setbacks including the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the 2022 Dobbs Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. 

It’s the only overtly political moment in the show, and it works well because it is done with so much heart.

Strong singing voices pervade this cast, especially as the actors feed off the audience’s love and build confidence in their voices as the zany plot crescendos, with the pit orchestra led by Cesar Flores adding just the right touches. Finding confidence in your voice is a great lesson to be learned from this show.

The costumes are dazzling (as are the quick costume changes), thanks to a little help from the Times Vintage clothing store in Greenport, which has this period nailed. Kudos to Costume Designer Vanessa Price and her assistants Mia Cohen and Cara and Lorelei Scharry for putting every little detail in order.

Unless you are also a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot, you are going to leave this theater feeling better than when you came in.

“Don’t let our 1970s decor and costumes fool you into thinking these themes are just part of our history,” says Director Liz Liszanckie in her program note. “People supporting people in the face of adversity is a constant theme that outlines our past and gives us hope for the future. It’s the reason I feel so strongly about the Youth on Stage program. We support each other simply because we have a common interest in theater… and that is a beautiful thing.”

Bravo.

“9 to 5: The Musical” continues Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through Aug. 6 at the North Fork Community Theatre, 12700 Old Sound Avenue, Mattituck. Tickets are $30 and are available at nfct.com.

— BHY

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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