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Summer Garden Theatre’s 9 to 5 The Musical

Come to see not one but three terrific leading ladies 

Photo by Alison Harbaugh, sugarfarmproductions. Office workers Violet (Ande Kolp), Judy (Lindsey Litka) and Doralee (Sydney Phipps) ­fantasize about how they would bring their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss — Franklin Hart Jr. (Steve Castrodad) — to his knees in 9 to 5 The Musical.

          Based on the 1980 musical of the same name and featuring music and lyrics by the multi-talented Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 The Musical had a solid pedigree but lasted only five short months on Broadway. Critics blamed the show’s sparse story line wrapped in big budget choreography and musical numbers. Still, the three female leads drew praise.

          Same here. The production running through September 2 at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre doesn’t overcome the play’s weaknesses, but it does highlight its strong points: that joyful countrified Parton pop and three leading ladies who do those songs vocal justice.

          The story is the movie: Three women at a big corporation cope with Franklin Hart Jr. (Steve Castrodad). They fantasize what they’d do to bring down a boss who is a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” and see those fantasies come true, to a degree. With the boss captured and hidden away and the ladies in charge, office productivity and morale soars, and, in the end … well, you know.

          The three leading ladies are terrific. Ande Kolp is Violet, the supervisor and single mom. Sydney Phipps is Doralee, the Texas platinum blonde. At the performance I attended, Lucy Bobbin substituted for Lindsey Litka as Judy, the newly single newcomer. This show shines brightest with these women on the stage, especially when the threesome sing together.

          Kolp perfectly plays the frustrated supervisor whose ideas are stolen by the boss. Phipps has the sassy spark that emulates Parton without mimicking her. Bobbin was so spot-on as the jilted wife who had never worked before that it was hard to believe she was stepping into the role for just two nights.

          The three displayed smooth harmonies in the anthem I Just Might, as each sings of their determination to start life anew. They later get high on grass and hilariously fantasize about how they would bring the boss to his knees, Judy singing the Dance of Death, Doralee delivering a Cowgirl’s Revenge and Violet hitting close to reality with Potion Notion.

          Individually, Phipps shines in Backwoods Barbie, bemoaning her platinum image but assuring us that “I might look artificial, but where it counts I’m real.” Kolp also has her moment to shine, as she fantasizes about being CEO in One of the Boys, joined by the chorus. Bobbins nearly stops the show with the soaring Get Out and Stay Out, declaring her independence to her contrite cheater of a husband.

          The live orchestra led by Ken Kimble and featuring Trent Goldsmith on keyboards is, as always at this theater, tight, and the chorus lends perfect harmonies throughout. Director/choreographer Tommy Malek’s staging is helped along by the stage crew’s very quick scene changes. Lighting designer Thomas Gardner’s washes of color nicely illuminate the clever Laugh-In like set.

          Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s 9 to 5 is at once a celebration of independence and teamwork, with a trio of leading ladies whose performances individually and together should not be missed.


Th-Su 8:30pm thru Sept. 2, two hours with intermission. Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 143 Compromise St, Annapolis, $25: