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Livingston Theatre Company's '9 to 5' works overtime to deliver laughs, earworms

Last weekend, the Livingston Theatre Company (LTC) dazzled as it took on the task of bringing the beloved musical "9 to 5" to life. – Photo by @rutgersltc / Instagram

Last weekend, the Livingston Theatre Company (LTC) performed an exciting and lively rendition of the musical, "9 to 5."

The show, which features music and lyrics by iconic country singer Dolly Parton, centers around three working women at Consolidated Industries: the headstrong and intelligent Violet Newstead, the naive Judy Bernly and the friendly Doralee Rhodes.

The three characters are played by School of Arts and Sciences senior Valerie Myers, School of Arts and Sciences senior Kitana Sultan and Mason Gross School of the Arts junior Erin Meiklejohn, respectively.

The women are each disrespected by their sexist boss Franklin Hart Jr., played by School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Matt Perez. After confiding in each other about the mistreatment, the women develop a plan to overthrow him, all while changing the state of their workplace in the process.

LTC's production of "9 to 5" was directed by Mason Gross junior Daphne Sardis, with Jack Cosentino, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, serving as assistant director. The pair did a great job capturing the story's absurdist energy, especially through the direction of their cast. The actors nailed both the musical's comedic and heartfelt moments, creating a memorable show for the audience.

All the leads displayed their fantastic singing, dancing, acting and comedy skills, each shining in their respective solo numbers. Doralee's "Backwoods Barbie," Violet's "One of the Boys" and Judy's "Get Out and Stay Out" were all highlights of the production.

Perez was wonderful at portraying the awful yet wildly entertaining Franklin, whom audiences loved to hate. "Here for You" served as a funny and satirical introduction to him as the show's villain. 

These four central performances all exceeded expectations, and they were magnified by the support of the ensemble.

Sofia Pasqua, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, was a scene stealer with "Heart to Hart," a number that LTC previously told Inside Beat was one of their favorites.

Many of this musical's strengths were cultivated behind the scenes by production staff such as choreographer Bonnie Terenzi, a Mason Gross junior, who crafted the cast's infectious dance numbers.

Additionally, the costumes of "9 to 5" should be noted as one of its strongest elements. Costume designer Shaena Harasty, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, dressed all of the cast in well-designed, period-accurate attires.

The costuming's vision and concept were clear, especially for the production's leading ladies — one standout costume included Violet's sparkly princess ball gown in her fantasy number, "Potion Notion."

Luna Ding, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, coordinated the set design and was assisted by Harasty. The set featured bright colors that perfectly fit the comic book aesthetic that Sardis previously mentioned to the Targum as one of her goals as director.

The self-awareness of LTC's "9 to 5" added a refreshing component to its humor. Not only were some aspects of the plot narrated by a video of Dolly Parton herself but during the number of "Let Love Grow," a romantic montage of Violet and Joe played on-screen. The video was reminiscent of cheesy old-school infomercials and filmed at various Rutgers locations, including Passion Puddle on Douglass campus. 

LTC's "9 to 5" was everything a musical should be. The company delivered a funny, feminist story that highlighted women and nonbinary performers, who are often underrepresented, particularly in comedic productions.

LTC's next production, "Beauty and the Beast," is scheduled to run from April 25 to April 28, which will be its last musical of the season.

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