UDT actors save outdated ’80s musical


Michaela Roman

‘9 to 5’ will be playing at the Union Dinner Theatre every Wednesday to Sunday until Nov. 3.

Leonardo Montañez, Staff Reporter

Originally written by Patricia Resnick with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, the UTEP Dinner Theatre’s “9 to 5” delightfully examines the problems women face in the workplace.
Directed by Jaime Barba, UDT’s costume designer, “9 to 5,” from beginning to end, was a joyous experience that explored the lives of Violet Newstead, played by Doris Velez, Doralee Rhodes, played by Annie Pennies, and Judy Bernly, played by Megan Hanner.
The musical takes place in the 1980s at Consolidated Industries, where most of the workforce is composed of women, who are constantly nagged and harassed by their boss, Mr. Franklin Hart, played by William Gilbert.
Of course, the female staff in the company conspires to change this.
The sound of the show was as good as ever with its live backstage musicians, directed by Patricia Ann Provencio.
Although the voices of the actors and actresses disappointed at the start of the show, by the end of the night, every technical aspect was greatly improved with every singer at the right volume and in coordination of the instruments.
This is where the UTD shines, for the most part, the technicality of “9 to 5” was astonishing–from the music and the acting to the choreography–these were the show’s major pluses.
The main actresses and actors of the musical astonished the audience with their superb acting and singing voices and most of the supporting cast were almost as good.
The score included Dolly Parton’s catchy tunes such as “9 to 5,” the powerful ballad “Get Out and Stay Out” and “Always a Woman,” which were iconic songs from the original movie.  Nonetheless, many more of the original score were not memorable enough to be remembered after the final curtain call or to listen to in your spare time, which says a lot about a musical.
One of the good aspects of the show was its comic relief, which took every opportunity it had to make a casual pun or joke–and although it was a 30 year-old musical — the jokes have aged well.
The production had a very dynamic stage, which changed from a generic office to a fancy executive’s office as well as to a home bedroom and was highlighted with impressive lightning direction done by Adam Bishop. But frankly, the staged version of “9 to 5” had too many set changes, which worked well in the film version, but not so much on stage–I found it distracting.
Choreographer Lisa Lopez made the production feel more like a daily-life routine with some elements of dance, rather than a full-on dancing show, which, not to discredit the dancers, but this made it more enjoyable to me because it felt more realistic.
The costumes of “9 to 5,” created by Barba, accurately matched the 1980s, which pleased the audience, which seemed to be composed of mostly people from that time period. They seemed to know the musical through and through and their enjoyment was obvious by their frequent laughter.
The UDT made “9 to 5” a great experience for the audience and it offers a little something for everyone, despite its mature subjects and language. Yet, as much as the jokes and some of the music were good, students of this generation, who do not know too much about musicals or the original movie, may not find this an enjoyable show.
While the acting was great from most of the actors, and that the quality was amazing, I think the show will have a hard time appealing to students due to its age and subject matter. It would be especially hard for someone who is not used to musicals, making them feel that for the money they spent, the dinner was the only thing worth their time and money.
The show, in my opinion, is directed to people who grew up during the time period of the original movie. The UTD’s stage adaptation is a very professional and technically is well worth watching. For those who are interested in this light comedy, catchy tunes and some great acting and singing  “9 to 5” will satisfy this appetite.
The show will be running through Nov. 3.
For more information, please call (915) 747-6060.