Big Noise Theatre’s production of 9 to 5 at the Prairie Lakes Community Center in Des Plaines puts a spin on the average office job, proving it can be fun, exciting, silly, and uplifting when surrounded by the right co-workers.
The curtain opens to a bustling office, ensemble members leaving their homes for the work day, setting up their desks, and preparing their coffee kicking off the show with Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. Begrudgingly, the work day begins and everyone takes their seats at their desks, phones ringing and typewriters tapping away.
In stumbles Judy Bernly, played by Jill Sesso, the new girl in the office on her first day. Her mentor Violet Newstead, takes pity on Judy for her lack of office skills and the two quickly become friends
The duo becomes a trio as Judy and Violet ban together after slimy CEO Frank (Kevin Pollack) convinces the office that he is sleeping with his secretary Doralee Rhodes, played by Mandi Corrao. As their hatred for Frank grows, so does the friendship between the three women.
Each woman is different in their own way, overcoming their own relatable struggles;Judy’s husband has left her for his secretary and she is searching for her own identity; Big haired blonde Doralee is in search of friends who will see her for more than just a Backwoods Barbie and widow Violet hopes to prove her worth after many years of hard work in the office and make it to the top to become One of the Boys.
All three of these women are powerhouse singers. Each busts out in her own power moment, proving she is independent and capable of accomplishing anything she puts her mind to, and together all three encourage one another to reach for her dreams and make them a reality.
Not The Average Office
Big Noise’s production includes an ambitious rotating set, pushed by crew members that likely had one of the most difficult roles in the show. When characters moved in and out of doors into the next room as the set rotated around them, it was truly exciting. In those moments, the performance was almost like watching a movie.
The costuming and set included bright colors—especially oranges, greens, and blues-- that brought an element of fun to what could have been a drab and boring office scene. This reviewer especially enjoyed the costumes when Frank’s love crazed assistant Roz Keith’s (Jane Brewer) sings Heart to Hart wearing pink can-can girl outfits and Violet’s power song “One of the Boys” with the men wearing suspenders and Violet in a commanding red pant suit, provided some silliness and fantasy to the everyday outfits worn by the office worker ensemble.
A Whole Lot of Fun
Between the uplifting musical numbers, vibrant costumes and set, and subtle comedic moments 9 to 5 is a whole lot of fun. Roz’s slightly over-the-top character was for this reviewer, especially a hoot. She and Frank land a few crude jokes that give us quite a good laugh.
9 to 5 is about much more than an office job, it’s a heartwarming story about friendship, going after what you want, and rising to the top despite the challenges you may face.
Editor's Note: The author of this review, Picture this Post Dance Editor Hayley Ross, is a personal friend of Nicholas Roman, who holds a position on Big Noise Theatre’s Board of Directors.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Based on the Twentieth Century Fox film
Directed by Deric Anthony Gochenauer
Music Direction by Justin Kono
Choreography by Samantha Sieghart
Violet Newstead - Sarah Sapperstein
Doralee Rhodes - Mandi Corrao
Judy Bernly - Jill Sesso
Franklin Hart Jr. - Kevin Pollack
Roz Keith - Jane Brewer
Joe - Brent Walker
Now playing through May 12
Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2pm
Prairie Lakes Theater
515 E. Thacker Street
Des Plaines, IL 60016
About the Author:
Hayley Ross graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with degrees in Dance and Journalism. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hayley began dancing at the age of four. She has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, and African dance and regularly can be found taking dance and Pilates at Chicago's Lou Conte Dance Studio. Hayley has completed internships at CityScene Media Group, OhioDance, the Chautauqua Institution, and American Dance Festival. She currently works in the Marketing department at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the Marketing Manager. Learn more about Hayley at hayleyross.weebly.com