OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Marriott's new '9 to 5' a comedy work of art

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-08-23T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Marriott's new '9 to 5' a comedy work of artBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

If I ever need advice about moving furniture and getting everything to fit into a small room, I'm calling choreographer Matt Raftery and set designer Thomas M. Ryan.

This duo does what seems like the impossible in a confined area of creative space, as is the case with Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire and their bravo-to-brillant theater-in-the-round staging of a very funny production of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5, The Musical" now playing until Oct. 13.

From rolling desks and towering step ladders to work cubicles on wheels and clever conference room tables that quickly convert to performance platforms, the production design team at Marriott Lincolnshire entertains with as much ingenuity as the cast enthralls the audience with comedic timing and sensational song moments.

Actress Kelli Cramer leads the way as a funny tour-de-force in the role of Violet, made famous by Lily Tomlin in the 1980 film of the same name. Susan Moniz is her perfect secretarial pool counterpart as bookish secretary Judy Bernly, played in the film by Jane Fonda. Moniz especially hits her stride in the second act belting out her anthem of sorts called "Get Out and Stay Out."

And having the biggest, er, um "shoes" to fill, is plucky Alexandra Palkovic, the actress who plays the Parton character Doralee Rhodes, and she does it with just the right dose of sweet and salty, while not falling prey to the cartoon approach.

This is the first time our area is getting a regional stage musical incarnation of this production created by Parton for Broadway in 2009.

Of course, the story wouldn't be complete without someone to be the nasty boss everyone loves to hate. In this case, it's actor James Moye, who is the best man for the role I can imagine, with the triple threat of comedy, singing and dancing abilities under his belt and behind his business shirt and tie.

The two and a half hour musical features the blockbuster title song plus what's accurately billed as "a jubilant Tony Award-nominated score" by multi-Grammy Award-winner Parton and a book by original screenwriter Patricia Resnick. This Marriott Theatre production is directed with pin-point perfection by 11-time Jeff Award-winner David H. Bell.

The cast of "9 to 5, The Musical" also includes fussy, funny Marya Grandy as nosy co-worker Roz Keith and Ben Jacoby, a fine turn as straight-arrow accountant Joe and Roger Anderson as top boss Tinsworthy.

Lead Artistic Director Aaron Thielen heads the artistic team with music direction by Ryan T. Nelson. Retro costume design by Nancy Missimi and lighting design by Jesse Klug help transport the audience back to 1979, and Patti Garwood conducts the Marriott Theatre Orchestra.

See this show, and you'll feel like you've been granted both a promotion and a raise without putting in a minute's worth of overtime.

Tickets are $40 to $48 with a limited number of dinner and theater tickets available for $55 per person. Free parking. FYI: (847) 634-0200 or MarriottTheatre.com

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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