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“9 to 5” explores feminism in work environment

Franklin+Hart+%28played+by+senior+Gray+Watson%29+hangs+in+midair+as+three+of+his+employees+take+revenge+on+him+for+his+sexist%2C+egotistical+nature.
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“9 to 5” explores feminism in work environment

Franklin Hart (played by senior Gray Watson) hangs in midair as three of his employees take revenge on him for his sexist, egotistical nature.

Franklin Hart (played by senior Gray Watson) hangs in midair as three of his employees take revenge on him for his sexist, egotistical nature.

David Elder

Franklin Hart (played by senior Gray Watson) hangs in midair as three of his employees take revenge on him for his sexist, egotistical nature.

David Elder

David Elder

Franklin Hart (played by senior Gray Watson) hangs in midair as three of his employees take revenge on him for his sexist, egotistical nature.

By Fareen Dhuka, St. John's School

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Franklin Hart (played by senior Gray Watson) flails in midair while three of his female employees hang him from his own garage at the climax of Act I of “9 to 5.”

The musical, which is based on the 1980 movie of the same name, features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Set in the late 1970s, “9 to 5” revolves around three female coworkers, Violet (played by senior Sophie Gillard), Judy (played by sophomore Karli Fisher) and Doralee (played by sophomore Sophia Groen), who take control of their workplace by kidnapping their sexist and egotistical boss, Hart.

David Elder
Doralee threatens Mr. Hart in his office before she, Violet and Judy kidnap him.

According to Fisher, the casting of two female sophomore leads sent an encouraging message to middle school students and underclassmen who aspire to participate in theater. To reinforce that idea, Fisher emphasized her character’s strength and independence in her performance.

“I [wanted] my voice to project intensely so that my character presents herself as strong,” Fisher said. “There were a lot of powerful lyrics that got that message across.”

While singing the song “Get Out and Stay Out,” Judy overcomes an unhealthy relationship with her ex-husband, a scene that showcases the theme of female empowerment prevalent in the production.

“We see female characters at all different stages of their lives going [against] the status quo, being bold and eventually asserting their power in a strong and confident way,” Fisher said.

Sophomore Meridian Monthy praised the focus “9 to 5” has on women in the workforce. She played Roz, a comedic character who is in love with Hart. Although Monthy disagrees with Roz’s ideals of female empowerment, she strove to withhold her personal bias and instead attempted to draw the audience’s sympathy for her character.

David Elder
Roz (center) sings about her love for Mr. Hart.

Stage Manager Lucy Curtis also noted that the feminist theme present in “9 to 5” was a drastic change compared to the School’s last four musicals.

“It’ll definitely ring true with a lot of people, women who have probably all been undermined in some form due to their gender,” Curtis said. “I would really hope that anyone who came to see it, male or female, really feels the power behind the message.”

According to Director of Fine Arts Bill McDonald, the feminist message portrayed throughout the musical is still relevant in today’s society.

“You’d think we’d be past all of this by now,” McDonald said. “I think we are in some ways, but sadly, it’s fairly topical right now, so I hope the musical made a statement.”

He added that “9 to 5” has many unique technical aspects which proved to be more complicated than previous productions. Instead of using painted backdrops for each scene, the musical featured a video panel which displayed a variety of visuals to serve as the background.

“It was absolutely beautiful watching each scene blend with the visual projected by the video screen in the background,” Watson said. “It looked genuinely professional.”

Watson’s role as the crude, misogynistic Hart proved to be a challenging experience that was “out of [his] comfort zone.” 

“Hart was so disgusting of a person that you had to ignore his faults when acting as him; otherwise, you wouldn’t act the character to the full extent, and it would not be believable,” Watson said.

According to Curtis, the cast’s enthusiasm for “9 to 5” exhibited every rehearsal made it a memorable experience.

“Overall, I think [the show] went very very well, and I am extremely proud of the cast’s work on “9 to 5,” Watson said. “It truly was one of the best shows I have ever worked on.”

This story was originally published on The Review on March 23, 2019.

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