We will always love Dolly Parton. Period. And not just because of an appearance on Letterman where she talked about being mistaken for a hooker and carrying a gun in her younger days. Perhaps that’s the problem with 9 to 5: The Musical. No matter how many drag queens may try, there’s only one diamond in a rhinestone world. At first, we refused to believe that 9 to 5 The Musical was a mess (over 20 Parton-penned songs and draglicious costumes had to please gays everywhere, right?). Sure, the negative review from theater review god Ben Brantley was to be expected. But then everyone else chimed in. After the jump, our highlights of the lowlights from critics.
“9 to 5 aims low and hits its target squarely. And that’s the difference between creating a classic and just a fun night out,” says Backstage. That’s also the difference between a Tony and forever being produced for community theater. As for TV star Allison Janey: “she reveals an attractive if modest voice and, most important, she sounds like Violet should sound in song. In addition, she understands the size musical comedy requires without ever sacrificing her great gifts as an actor. Indeed, those gifts serve as the show’s anchor.”
New York Times critic Ben Brantley isn’t so kind: “Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick’s musical adaptation of the 1980 movie about three women’s revenge on their sexist boss piles on the flashy accessories like a prerecession hedge funder run amok at Barney’s. Staged by Joe Mantello (who directed the fat fairy-tale cash cow ‘Wicked’), this show feels assembled by an emulous shopaholic who looked around at the tourist-drawing hits of the last decade and said: ‘I want some of that. And that. Ooh, and can I have that, too?'” Again, Allison Janney kind of saves the day: “This deliciously droll actress is known for playing exceedingly competent people (‘The West Wing’ on television, ‘Present Laughter’ on Broadway) with much more than mere competence, and her game but dignified professionalism is the show’s biggest asset.”
The Hollywood Reporter wasn’t impressed: “The opening sound of a clacking typewriter in Dolly Parton’s classic song ‘9 to 5’ is probably the most exciting moment in ‘9 to 5: The Musical,’ based on the movie from whence it came.” As for Janney? Well, she “can’t sing or dance at all — no small problem when starring in a big-budget musical.” Hey, that didn’t stop Christina Applegate from her Tony nod in Sweet Charity.
The New York Daily News makes the show seem like a resounding meh: “Is ‘9 to 5’ as hip as TV’s ‘The Office’ or as joyously hit-filled as ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’? No, but if you’re looking for a little diversion, it will do the trick from 8 to 10:15.” Janney “is tall and striking and captures Violet’s easygoing authority, but her singing and dancing are still tentative.” In other words, stick to TV.
According the NY1, “On the theme of numbers, ‘9 To 5’ rates a 5 for content but the razzle dazzle factor earns a 9. Depending on your taste for mindless extravaganza, the show’s overall score is somewhere in between.” And a little more Janney: “Allison Janney in the Lily Tomlin role is not the greatest singer but is quite a class act, and wins the crowd over with her great warmth and presence.”
So have any of you guys seen it? If so, give us your own mini-review in the comments. Bonus points for referencing classic Dolly lyrics.