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111019 OPTP 9 to 5 musical

The Orangeburg Part-Tine Players' upcoming production of "9 to 5 The Musical" stars, standing, from left, Karyn Moss as Judy Bernly, Jessica Nuckolls as Violet Newstead, Jennifer Sweatman as Doralee Rhodes, and, seated, Peter Sonne as Frank Hart Jr..

The Orangeburg Part-Time Players will present “9 to 5 The Musical,” based on the hit 1980 film, Nov. 14-17, at the BlueBird Theatre.

With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, the story is set in the late 1970s. It’s a story of friendship and revenge in the world of the workplace.

Pushed to the boiling point, three female coworkers concoct a plan to get even with their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss. In a hilarious turn of events, Violet, Judy and Doralee live out their wildest fantasy – giving their boss the boot.

While Mr. Hart remains "otherwise engaged," the women give their workplace a dream makeover, taking control of the company that had always kept them down.

The cast includes Jessica Nuckolls as Violet Newstead, Jennifer Sweatman as Doralee Rhodes, Karyn A.J. Moss as Judy Bernly and Peter Sonne as Franklin Hart Jr. Other cast members include Phyllis Davis as Roz Keith, Will Inabinet as Joe, Dyna Wactor as Kathy, Tylisha Bruce as Maria, Mitzie Etters DeAloia as Margaret, Kurt Abraham as Dick/the detective, Keith Smith as Josh, Donovan Dukes as Dwayne, Linda Felkel as Missy, C.D. Spigner as Bob, Payton Bordenkecher as the candy striper, Vincil Spencer as the doctor and Tony DeAloia as Mr. Tinsworthy.  Ensemble members are Rickelle J. Thomas, Patricia Thomas, Madelyn Jervey, Taryn Davis Scott, Arianna Saunders, Payton Bordenkecher and Vincil Spencer.

The play is directed by OPTP veteran Coe Dantzler, with musical direction by longtime contributor, Blake Cramer.

“It is very close to what you would remember from the movie,” Dantzler said. “Violet, Judy and Doralee all work at the same company. They are mistreated in different ways by Mr. Hart.

“It finally builds up to Violet thinking she might have killed him, which, of course, she didn’t. And they all end up kidnapping him and making the company a better place while they have him tied up and figure out what to do with him.”

Dantzler said the play is hilarious entertainment, but it’s also about female empowerment and still relevant to the modern world.

“I don’t think it was really appreciated on Broadway – it didn’t last very long. But I think one of the reasons it feels more timely now is that in the past couple of years, women have been talking about the issues they face in the workplace,” he said.

“It does make a lot of jokes like specifically ‘We’re in the ‘70s’ – this is the time period.’ But when you strip those away, it would work as a modern piece.”

Sweatman, who plays Doralee, said “I think the script’s awesome. I think the play is going to be really funny.

“My character is one of those that’s kind of shy and reserved at first – she’s kind of the talk of the office. Then by the end of the show, she’s really kind of got her voice about her. And with the two other girls, they become what the office is,” she said.

The cast has been coming together for the production, she said.

“We have a great time. We cut up, we laugh, we all work well together.”

Nuckolls portrays Violet, who “has been working as a secretary supervisor for a really long time. ... She is a single mom and she’s trying to do her best and work well in the office and give it her all.

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“And yet she keeps getting passed over for promotion and she keeps getting treated like she’s ‘less than’ by her boss,” she said. “And she really goes through a transformation of empowerment throughout the show. She realizes how much she is worth and that she’s allowed to be happy.

“It’s a lot of female empowerment for each of the characters.”

Moss plays Judy who “is getting a job for the first time ever in life. She’s spent her whole adult life with her husband, who has been a cheat and a liar. And he finally leaves her after 20-some years of marriage for a 19-year-old.

“So she has to get a job. And this is her first time working, and she kind of goes on faith that she’ll get this job because she has no experience. But she does get the job,” she said.

“She finally gets to a place where she realizes that she is worthy. And although the boss is one of those male chauvinists ... she is able, through the activities of the three leads, to overcome him and realize her own worth,” she said.

“And she makes a wonderful transformation toward the end,” she said. “She gets rid of her husband and realizes she can stand on her own two feet, and she does so.”

She said the cast is made of up two different generations.

“We’ve got the high school kids and the college kids, and then you’ve got the grownups,” she said. “But I taught some of these kids, so there’s a ‘gelling’ going on there ... I think we’re working well together as an ensemble.”

Sonne portrays the villain, Mr. Hart.

“I think it’s very much of a period piece ... of office life in the 1980s,” Sonne said. “It’s got a lot of comedy. It brings up a lot of issues of the day but in a comedic form, which I enjoy. That’s the kind of theater I like to do.

“And, of course, it’s a musical. It’s got some great songs, a great mixture of songs, some that are more serious and some that are very funny,” he said.

“My character is Frank Hart. He is a pig, which is totally not me. And the play kind of takes a comedic portrayal of Frank to bring out all his piggishness, how he treats women, how he treats all employees,” he said.

“And Frank doesn’t like it, but the audience will like that Frank will get what’s coming to him.”

Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday, Nov. 17, matinee at 3 p.m., at the BlueBird Theatre on Russell Street in downtown Orangeburg.

Tickets are $19 for adults and $17 for youth and senior citizens and can be purchased at bluebirdorangeburg.ticketleap.com or by calling the box office at 803-536-5454.

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Contact the writer: chuff@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5543.

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