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Livingston Theatre Company's '9 to 5' takes center-stage this weekend

Livingston Theatre Company (LTC) prepares for its rendition of the iconic musical "9 to 5," opening this weekend. – Photo by Jack Cosentino

This weekend, the Livingston Theatre Company (LTC) will resume its 26th season with a performance of the musical "9 to 5" at the Livingston Student Center.

The show premiered on Broadway in 2009 with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and is based on the 1980 film of the same name that starred Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. 

LTC's "9 to 5" revolves around three working women: Violet and Judy, portrayed by School of Arts and Sciences seniors Valerie Myers and Kitana Sultan, respectively, and Doralee, played by Mason Gross School of the Arts junior Erin Meiklejohn.

After being harassed and treated unfairly by their sexist boss Franklin Hart Jr., played by School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Matt Perez, the women plot to get their revenge and overthrow him, encountering a series of comedic moments along the way.

LTC's production of the musical is directed by Daphne Sardis, a Mason Gross junior, who is somewhat new to directing, despite having mostly acting experience.

With regard to her experiencing directing "9 to 5," Sardis said that she's loved the opportunity to test her creativity and analyze the show's script and characters, all while working on a show "written by women and for women."

"It was an absolute pleasure getting to craft this version of this production with a mostly female-led team," she said.

Sardis specifically mentioned how her goal for the visual aesthetic of this production was to resemble a comic book to match the show's "slapstick" and "absurdist" characters.

She credited set designer Luna Ding, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Shaena Harasty, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, for their skills in creating a cohesive look for the project.

The rest of the production staff includes music directors Jessica Bland, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Luke Ferrell, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, as well as assistant director Jack Cosentino, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. The team also features choreographer Bonnie Terenzi, a Mason Gross junior, as well as stage managers Shannon Huhn, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Amber Kurland, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year.

According to a statement from LTC, "9 to 5" was chosen for this season because members "knew that this would be a really fun show to highlight female and non-binary performers." 

Both the film and the musical have long been a symbol of female empowerment in popular culture. Even with the original film being more than 40 years old, the three main characters experience issues many women unfortunately still go through in the workplace. 

Sardis and the rest of LTC aim to highlight the show's feminist perspective.

"There is often misogynistic discourse about whether or not women are funny, especially online, and this show completely turns that notion on its head," Sardis said.

"9 to 5" features a multitude of fun and upbeat musical numbers that are sure to get audiences talking. 

LTC let Inside Beat in on the highlights from the production, which include the iconic opening number "9 to 5" and "Heart to Hart," sung by Sofia Pasqua, a School and Arts and Sciences sophomore in her role as Roz.

Sardis hopes that the show can provide an enjoyable escape for audience members.

"Theatre has this wonderful ability to transport us to a different reality," she said. "I think we naturally gravitate towards underdog stories, and this is certainly one, hopefully, in an exciting package."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include Cosentino as the assistant director of the production.

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