The message in 9 to 5 musical remains forever on topic

The West Island Theatre Association is poised to perform the musical 9 to 5, set to tunes by Dolly Parton and inspired by the film of the same name.

West Island Theatre Association (WISTA) performers, left to right, Robin Kravitz, Kaysey Hart and Emily Brayton rehearse the musical 9 to 5. Micaela Bianchini

Time for a quick song. How about that catchy tune 9 to 5? Ready, set, sing. The Dolly Parton song stuck like glue from the moment the comedy film of the same name, starring Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin was released in 1980. Parton went on to write the music for a stage production based on the film, which debuted in 2008, with book by Patricia Resnick — the co-writer of the film.

The song continues to thrive with a run of the musical in London’s West End being extended by one year.

The West Island Theatre Association (WISTA) brings the popular musical to the Louise Chalmers Theatre at John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire for a six-performance run, beginning June 7.

The community theatre production is directed by Julianna Astorino who first performed with WISTA in Beauty and the Beast in 2015 and co-directed Shrek in 2017.

“The 9 to 5 music is so catchy,” Astorino said. “I’ve had the (Broadway) soundtrack on repeat for five months.”

The 29-member cast have been rehearsing once a week for those five months. There is a lot to learn, with the ensemble singing in almost every musical number.

The action swirls around three women toiling away at office jobs. In the WISTA production Robin Kravitz plays Judy — a new office worker with no previous experience. Kaysey Hart play Violet, who is consistently passed over for promotions because she is a woman. Emily Brayton plays Doralee, a secretary who, much to her dismay, is the object of her boss’ lecherous desire.

“I love that the musical allows each of these women to have a moment to shine, to experience victory,” Astorino said.

The comedy was a hit in movie theatres and on Broadway for both its humour and for its very real subtext about the realities women face in the workplace. The film was released almost 40 years ago, but the message is no less relevant in this era of #metoo and #timesup.

“It’s unfortunate that the message in a (story) set in 1979 still resonates so strongly in 2019,” Astorino said. “I like the fact that it uses comedy to get us to let our guard down a little bit so that we can understand the message. And I like the fact that the comedy is never at the expense of what these women are experiencing.”

For Astorino, musical theatre is “the ultimate expression of one’s self, using voice, singing and movement to express a story” and in the case of 9 to 5, the experience is made sweeter by the fact that many of the film’s scenes are replicated in the stage version.

“It’s a ridiculous, blown-up version of everything in the movie,” she said. “In the movie, each of the women fantasize about how they would get rid of the boss. In the musical, each woman has a musical number dedicated to her fantasy.”

The musical is choreographed by Vincent Bourdages with assistance from Ashley Midgely.

WISTA presents 9 to 5 at the Louise Chalmers Theatre, 501 St-Jean Blvd. in Pointe-Claire, June 7-8, 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. and June 15 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30, or $22 for students, seniors and QDF members. For reservations, visit

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