“9 to 5: The Musical” opens Saturday

By Tom Joyce

July 25, 2013

A familiar struggle in America’s business world — working women vs. a sleazy boss — will play out again this weekend in Mount Airy with the debut of “9 to 5: The Musical.”

The community theater production of the Surry Arts Council is based on the popular 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, which was not a musical. The stage version of the “9 to 5” story contains songs written by Parton while preserving the plot of three female co-workers who concoct a plan to turn the tables on their arrogant, chauvinistic manager.

“It’s almost identical to the film,” Director Bobby Bodford said of the local play presentation that opens Saturday for a three-day run at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Show times include two performances Saturday, at 3 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.; and Monday, 7:30 p.m.

“If you liked the movie, there’s no way you cannot like the musical,” added Bodford, a Pilot Mountain resident and longtime theater veteran who is artistic director for the Surry Arts Council. Bodford previously directed a production of “Cinderella” here in June.

But mirroring the movie has been a daunting task for the local theater crew in some respects.

“It has stunts in it,” Bodford said of one requirement, including scenes of Franklin Hart, the chauvinistic boss character, being kidnapped and imprisoned in a room via a strange contraption in which he is bound and hoisted above the floor.

The Mount Airy Rescue Squad assisted in developing the device for Tom Beckom, the actor who plays Hart in the Surry Arts Council show. “He nails it,” Bodford said of Beckom’s portrayal of the central character in “9 to 5: The Musical.”

“It has got a bunch of scene changes,” the director said of another demanding element of the play. “It takes place in many locations and the scenes change very rapidly. Logistically, it has a lot of challenges.”

But the cast, numbering about 30 people, is up to those tasks after five weeks of rehearsal, Bodford says. “They’ve worked really hard, so we’re definitely ready to go.”

Assisting Bodford are Mark Pilson, the show’s musical director, and Kristy McMillan, stage manager.

Although the movie was released more than 30 years ago, “9 to 5: The Musical” is relatively new on the community theater scene. The Surry Arts Council is one of the first organizations to tackle the play, which originally appeared on Broadway in 2009.

“This is one of those shows that’s just now beginning to make the rounds,” Bodford said. “Nobody around here has done it, that I know of.”

And while the story is set against the backdrop of the 1970s and 1980s, when women’s-rights issues were taking center stage, its theme is still relevant today, Bodford believes.

The plot of “9 to 5” centers on the friendship between three women employed in the business offices of a large corporation. The co-workers conspire to take control of their male-dominated company, weaving a tangled web with the misadventures they encounter along the way.

As far as the equal treatment of women in the workplace, “I think we’ve come a long way, but I don’t think we’ve come as far as we need to go,” Bodford said. “It’s better than the ’70s, because we do have women CEOs all over the place.” Yet chauvinism still exists, the director said.

He added that despite its subject matter, “9 to 5: The Musical” is not so much about possessing socially redeeming values as it is simply offering the audience “a good time.”

With the local production’s attention to detail, one might think the only thing missing is Dolly Parton, but even she will be included. “Dolly herself makes an appearance,” Bodford said, which is possible via video technology.

Tickets for “9 to 5: The Musical” cost $10, and can be obtained in advance by calling the Surry Arts Council at 786-7998 or visiting its offices on the lower level of the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or