Working "9 to 5" doesn't seem like work at all for these women.
Three actresses who have Northern Utah ties are taking the stage, playing leading roles in the musical "9 to 5" at Hale Centre Theatre, starting Wednesday, Aug. 15.
"We can't wait to open the show," said Weber State University graduate Angela Jeffries of Holladay. She plays Judy Bernly, the character portrayed by Jane Fonda in "9 to 5" the movie.
Jeffries joins Angie Winegar, of Farmington, who is playing Doralee Rhodes, the character portrayed by Dolly Parton in the movie. Bonnie Wilson Whitlock, of Layton, portrays Violet Newstead, played by Lily Tomlin in the movie.
The musical "9 to 5" runs through Sept. 29. Performances are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Admission prices start at $24 for adults and $15 for children age 5 to 11.
There are two casts; Whitlock and Winegar perform Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as the early Saturday matinee. Jeffries is in the cast performing Tuesday/Thursday and 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Winegar guarantees the musical will be enjoyed by everyone. "The play has a universal message for all ages. All generations will love it. If you have seen the movie, you will love the new music, and you'll remember the story from the movie," she said.
In the musical and the movie, three working women live out their fantasy of getting even with, and successfully overthrowing, their company's boss, who is known for being a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.
Jeffries points out the musical is even better than the movie since it has the energy and action unique to live theater. The play also offers a "powerful message for people in general to show respect for one another. It's a message of karma," she said.
New to the West
This is the first time the show has been performed off Broadway -- and the first time it has been west of the Mississippi, according to the Hale theater.
Many people may have seen the 1980 movie, which came at a time when legislation regarding equality for women in the workforce was politically controversial. "It was a pivotal year for the women's rights movement," Winegar said.
While the topic was hot in the '70s, Whitlock added, it continues to be a challenging issue. "It's really still a very prevalent issue today," she said. "People think the play is all about women's empowerment, but it's more than that. It's about the women gaining control of their lives and making changes."
Each of the three female characters has a backstory. Violet's main issue, as a widow with one child, is her lack of promotion in the company over the years. Judy is going through a divorce after her husband squandered their savings and ran off with his secretary. Doralee is a young married woman who wants to be recognized for her brains, not just her beauty -- and is fighting off her boss's advances.
Winegar's character, Doralee, is a fun role for Winegar, since Doralee is a country singer with a Texas accent. Winegar has sung at state and county fairs, opening for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and David Lee Murphy.
Winegar particularly likes the song "Change It" in the play because it is about taking charge and doing things yourself. "You can't just sit around and wait for something to change. You need to fix it yourself," she said. "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. It's a great message of empowerment."
Jeffries, playing Judy, says it's the hardest role she has ever played because Judy's personality is intense and emotional. "My character is so vulnerable. I'm not at all like her, so it's difficult," she said.
Whitlock's character, Violet, is a confident single mom and "a unique role that runs the gamut," Whitlock said. "It's definitely stretching me," she said. "I have fallen in love with my character -- I want to portray her correctly and give her justice."
All three actresses have vast experience in the theater realm.
Whitlock has a degree in musical dance theater from Brigham Young University; she teaches audition, vocal and acting classes while also performing.
Winegar is trained as a country and classical singer and has performed at the former Rodgers Memorial Theater in Centerville. This is her first show at Hale.
Jeffries has been performing in theater since she was 15 and has done approximately 30 shows. She has a bachelor's degree in theater from WSU.
A mobile set
Hale Centre Theatre's production has more than 25 different set locations in the first act alone. In order to transport the audience to and from so many locations in very little time, the theater installed a special track system designed to move multiple set pieces in and out quickly.
"9 to 5" features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, with book by Patricia Resnick. The original Broadway production opened on April 30, 2009, and was nominated for 15 Drama Desk awards, the most received by a production in a single year.
On Broadway, the show earned four Tony nominations, including best original score.
In conjunction with the production, Hale Centre Theatre is honoring the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of its Hale Center Theater Applauds program to spotlight nonprofits making a difference in the community.
The Utah Make-A-Wish Foundation, which for 27 years has been helping children with life-threatening medical conditions, will be highlighted in the theater program and given a VIP night at the theater to applaud its good works for Utah's community.