Wilder Teague as Doralee, Mimi Shugar as Violet and Gillian Harris-Swem as Judy in 9 to 5 / Photo by Margaret Bull

Still Relevant After All These Years

Dolly Parton’s decades-old 9 to 5 comes alive at South Eugene High School

Since sexism in the workforce is not a thing of the past, the South Eugene High School theater department put on an endearing performance of 9 to 5 the Musical March 11. 

Dolly Parton’s music before the performance helped set the scene. Parton composed the music and lyrics for the show. It’s based on the comedy film 9 to 5, where she portrays a secretary in the ’70s who is continuously harassed sexually, along with her female coworkers (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), by their male boss. 

Though the movie was made in 1980, the societal issues are still relevant, and it was interesting to see high school students act in mature roles. One drank from a flask, someone talked about getting laid and the main characters acted out the movie scene where they smoked pot. It is brave to take on such a powerful production.

These young thespians possess impressive talent and vocals. Wilder Teague plays Dolly Parton’s character, Doralee, with a  Southern accent and blonde curly hair to accompany her persona. The boss himself, Franklin Heart Jr. (MCayden Marlar), outrageously dramatizes the role of a man obsessed with a woman he can’t have. You could tell he was in full-fledged character mode.

Violet’s witty and sarcastic personality emerges in Mimi Shugar’s performance, which drew laughs when the other characters didn’t get her humor, but the audience did. After each punchy line, laughter filled the auditorium. When Judy (Gillian Harris-Swem) struggles with the Xerox machine, an audience member mumbled, “been there, done that.”

The fallback trick where V​iolet falls into the arms of her coworkers was unexpected and a little thrilling. Unanimous gasping and clapping from beyond the stage followed the fall. What a whirlwind!

The transitions between scenes were smooth and effective. The use of costume design and wigs helped signify the different characters if they took on multiple roles. Each character seemed to have a great time on stage and off.

The whole production is energetic and lively, to say the least. John Monteverde does a remarkable job of directing the students of South Eugene High School in this musical.

9 to 5 the Musical runs through Sunday, March 19, at South Eugene High School. Tickets and more info at SouthEugeneTheater.com.

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