Theater program brings “9 to 5” to GHC stage

Photos courtesy of Anabella Apfelbaum & Elena Cozma

By Nancy Azzam

This year’s musical, “9 to 5,” is a funny and heartfelt, yet socially relevant and dramatization of the popular 1980s movie which was turned into a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. The student production ran from March 16-19.

This year’s musical, although set in the past, appeals to newer and continuous struggles faced currently alongside music and lyrics composed by the famous singer/songwriter Dolly Parton.

“I think it is as relevant now as it was before,” Parton said in an interview with the magazine Stylist when the musical originally came out in 2008. “In a way, with the new #MeToo movement, I think this is a really good time for it. We girls are out there saying: ‘Yes we can do it.’ We’ve still got a long way to go, but it is very entertaining in addition to making a good point.”

The school’s production involved two different main casts which alternated show dates. The five main characters were each played by two different students. Having two casts allowed drama teacher Stuart Fingeret to highlight more talent on campus, especially since Shrek the Musical was canceled due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Violet was played by Koko Nguyen and Emily Otkupman. Doralee was played by Mia Deukmedjian and Shayda Radmehr. Judy was played by Eryn Salinas and Sabrina Yu. Franklin Hart was played by Elena Cozma and Ricky Trujillo. Roz was played by Michelle Barmaksezian and Leilani Reyes.

The story takes place at Consolidated Industries, which is presided over by a sexist, egotistical, and lying boss, Franklin Hart who brings issues into the lives of the people who work below him. This includes the lives of the musical’s main characters Violet, Judy, and Doralee, who have reached their limit with the actions of their boss towards those who work for him, now seeking their revenge.

All of these women have different problems they find themselves facing when working under Hart, some dealing with no recognition while others are recognized too much. Although their issues vary, their difficulties are what link them together to fight against his aggravating actions.

We can clearly see the female empowerment that overcomes sexism in the workplace as these women stand up for themselves and for their fellow workers for what they believe to be right.

The stage is brought to life with lively set designs, dimming lights, intricate costumes, and even live music played alongside the actors.

With the flashing lights and vintage costumes, it’s still the people and the bonds that were formed in this production that make the difference for both the actors and the audience who can see this chemistry present on stage.

“The people, the details, the message, and the music itself all stand out to me and make it important. I can say that my friends here in the ‘9 to 5’ musical really make this show important to me. As an online iGranada student, I often didn’t get to socialize and see people. Before I joined the play, I felt really isolated, but these people have made me feel welcome and a part of something amazing,” James Lowrance, who plays Mr. Tinsworthy, said.

The actors had a fun time getting to learn this different style of musical theater that has great contrast to previous musicals such as “Spongebob: The Musical” where they can expand their skills such as accents or more dramatic roles.

“Spongebob was super fun and cute to put on for our audience, but the message of this musical has an important message of how women are mistreated and shows women persevering through the hardships that some men put on them. It shows that you should never give up and fight for the rights that you believe in,” Radmehr said.

Even though musicals may be more challenging, they are a unique experience that the actors and actresses and their audience can have and remember for a very long time. The actors and actresses walked away from this production with new skills and memories that can benefit them for their futures in theater, especially in musical theater.

“In plays with no music, you have an easier time acting in it. You don’t have to worry about hitting the right notes or sounding good. All you have to do is know how to act in your role and do what you are supposed to. It can be a lot on my plate, but it is still worth it and fun. In the future I would love to see more dramatic stuff like this that has something like a huge breakdown scene or argument between two people, I feel like that would be really fun for the audience to watch,” Radmehr said.

Director and drama teacher Stuart Fingeret was excited to bring such an empowering musical to the school.

“For all the comedy, the underlying color is anger and stress. When Judy sings to her husband in act 2, ‘Get out and stay out,’ the audience sees female empowerment over toxic masculinity. We are excited to bring “9 to 5” to the GHC stage,” Fingeret said.