A classic office satire is coming to Sacramento on Tuesday when the California Musical Theatre opens its third Music Circus musical of the summer with “9 to 5.”
The musical is based on the 1980 comedy film of the same title, a story of friendship and revenge in which three female office secretaries kidnap their sexist boss, hold him hostage and run his company far better than he ever did.
Dolly Parton, who played Hart’s object of lust Doralee Rhodes in the original film, wrote the lyrics and music for the musical, which premiered on Broadway in 2009.
Producing artistic director Scott Klier believes Parton’s songwriting is what makes the musical so popular among Sacramentans.
The Music Circus surveyed last season’s ticket buyers to select this season’s program and after two surveys, “9 to 5” ranked among the top five requested musicals.
“There’s obviously, if not a relationship with the title, I think a relationship with Dolly Parton,” said Klier. “I think she is a great truth-teller in her songwriting, and that’s exemplified beautifully in ‘9 to 5.’ ”
To deliver the musical’s colorful personalities to the Music Circle stage, Klier secured an impressive cast of actors. The main cast includes Vicki Lewis, Anne Brummel, Tricia Paoluccio as the three protagonists, Paul Schoeffler as their boss, Franklin Hart Jr. Kristine Zbornik rounds out the cast as Roz Keith, Hart’s personal assistant, spy and a constant nuisance to the rest of the office.
The actors have performed in Broadway musicals such as “Chicago,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Wicked.”
The actors perform in the Music Circus’ theater-in-the-round environment, where seats are placed in a circle around the stage (like a circus), as opposed to the more familiar Broadway proscenium theater, where the stage is viewed from seats directly in front of it.
“What it usually boils down to, is that you produce with less,” Klier said. “On Broadway, the environment in the show is fully realized – walls , doors, windows, furnishings, decor – we have to create that environment with less than a handful of pieces.”
Changing costumes and sets is also more difficult during performances in the round. In the Broadway production of “9 to 5,” the Marquis Theatre had an automated trap system that lifted scenic elements from the basement of the theater stage in a matter of seconds. Music Circus actors change their own sets.
“You have to figure out how to stage the show so that it maintains its Broadway fluidity, and that can be enormously challenging,” Klier said.
However, patrons reap the benefits of theater in the round settings. In typical proscenium theaters such as the Marquis, the farthest seats could be 100 feet or more from the stage, Klier said, compared to 60 feet at the Music Circus.
“Actors in our venue can maintain a pretty natural quality because no seat is farther away than 60 feet, so everyone in that house has the benefit of seeing the nuance in every performer’s performance.”
This is why it’s important to bring actors to Sacramento who “have the courage to get on up on that stage and be as exposed as they are,” Klier said.
The cast and crew of “9 to 5” have a 10-day rehearsal process that Klier describes as “fast and furious.” Yet combined with an experienced cast and intimate viewing experience, “it really does bring out the best of the best,” Klier said.