Friendship, Revenge, and Feminism: The Powerful Story of 9 to 5

The Musical 9

Based on the seminal 1980 hit movie, 9 to 5 tells a hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. The musical features a cast of powerhouse actresses with the requisite vocal chops to deliver a sexy, thought-provoking and surprisingly romantic production.

Director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun flirts with wink-wink naughtiness in dialogue and sight gags but sustains a satisfying pace throughout.

Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton

Whether rewriting Curly Putman’s neo-traditional “Dumb Blonde” or this growling, take-no-BS blow for feminism, Parton’s debut LP proved she was one hell of a songwriter. Even today, this steel-guitar-drenched anthem is enough to get your toes tapping.

Taking a traditional melody and pairing it with lyrics that at first express fragility and despair but ultimately roar with strength, this transformative song reimagined labor equality as a feminist anthem. The frank, unromantic country storytelling has inspired a made-for-TV film, a children’s book and countless memorable covers.

A tribute to her mentor and early duet partner Porter Wagoner, this tearjerking ballad is a testament to Dolly’s artistry at turning a potentially maudlin weeper into an emotionally stirring tribute to loss and memory. This version, complete with a heavenly choir and ad-libbed revisions to the Jimmy Page-Robert Plant lyrics, is pure majesty.

Book by Patricia Resnick

A side-splitting salute to corporate sisterhood and workplace revenge! Based on the iconic 1980 movie, 9 to 5 features brilliant music and lyrics by country legend Dolly Parton and a captivating book written by Patricia Resnick.

Resnick interviewed secretaries at a Los Angeles insurance firm to better understand the dynamics of their friendships and sifted through truth from gossip in order to give her characters a more authentic feel. This approach pays off, with the three leads – Amy Hughes as Violet Newstead, Angela Tims as Judy and Alexa Boehler as sunny Doralee – all having strong and identifiable personalities that distinguish them from their screen counterparts.

The story’s premise of three downtrodden secretaries enlisting help from their male colleague to give their sexist, egotistical and lying boss the comeuppance he deserves may seem dated, but it is still a hilarious fairy tale with enough outrageously over-the-top elements to remain thoroughly enjoyable. Moreover, the lack of subtext gives the actors freedom to focus on their inner feelings and motivations.

Direction by Tommy Tune

At six-foot-seven inches, Broadway legend Tommy Tune may be the tallest tap dancer in history. He has won ten Tony Awards, the National Medal of Arts and his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is an actor, singer, theatre director, producer and choreographer.

His work is infused with a sense of good, liberal humor and unthreatening nostalgia. He combines American songbook standards with dazzling, sexy, high-energy dance. His staging of Busby Berkeley’s cowgirl chorus (with its “hat-ography”) from the 1930 film Whoopee! is a dazzling expansion of the precision number originally created by Russell Markert.

Erin Dubreuil is thrilled to return to MTW after appearing as Carrie in the original Broadway cast of Carrie The Musical. She has also appeared as Nanette in No, No, Nanette, Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and has had leading roles in several regional productions. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Choreography by Maury Yeston

The musical 9 was based on Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 and was a major Broadway success in 1982. It was later adapted into the film version of the same name, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard.

Yeston had been a composer-in-residence at Yale University and had authored two music textbooks published by the university. He was also a professor of music theory and composition at the school, with his scholarly work focusing on the analysis of musical form.

He was brought in during out-of-town tryouts for Tommy Tune’s upcoming musical Grand Hotel to augment the score, written by Robert Wright and George Forrest. He revised many of the songs and wrote five new ones, including a beautiful ballad called December Songs (click to listen). The song cycle was recorded by Andrea Marcovicci for an album that Yeston co-produced, and by Victoria Clark in a full studio cast recording released by RCA Victor.

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Boston University’s New Musical Theatre Building: A State-of-the-Art Facility for Theatre Arts

Boston University’s New Musical Theatre Building

The 75,000 SF modern steel-and-glass facility houses the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre; backstage performer and technical support spaces; lobby and front of house areas, and classroom and lab-style teaching rooms. Acentech provided acoustical consulting (room acoustics, sound isolation, mechanical system noise control) for the project.

In December 2022, the BU School of Theatre will present Once, a musical love story in the state-of-the-art Booth Theatre. Featuring actors who sing and singers who act, the show is directed by Larry Sousa, BC’s Monan Professor in Theatre Arts.

Liquid Fun

Most performance groups spend months planning and rehearsing before their final performances. What would happen if that rehearsal time was subtracted from the equation? That’s the challenge that is Combat, a yearly event where four of BU’s premiere performance groups—Bu Stage Troupe, BU On Broadway, Wandering Minds and Liquid Fun—are tasked with creating a musical in just 24 hours.

With a full house in Studio ONE, the lights came up on Liquid Fun first. Their show was about a costume party where one guest dropped dead and a blind detective interviewed every suspect. It was a dark, funny, and original story that won the audience’s hearts.

Jayna Chung (BFA Theatre Arts 2022) says that BU has opened her eyes to new passions and ways of expressing herself. She hopes to continue exploring those passions in the future. For more on BU’s Theatre arts program, visit our website. Also, check out College Factual’s ranking of the best schools for theater majors.

BU Improv

The program prepares students to enter the professional theatre with a deep level of intellectual and artistic questioning, playfulness in collaboration, and an ability to tell a dynamic story through the theatrical medium. It also teaches them to work with different communities, including those in underrepresented areas.

The UCB is famous for being the launching pad for many of America’s top comedians, including Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Bette Midler, and Lily Tomlin. Its alumni include Jay Leno, Al Franken, Bob Saget, and Billy Crystal.

BU Improv has been performing comedy since 1998, winning countless awards and tournaments. They have held annual 24-hour comedy marathons to raise money for local food banks and performed across campus and at local theatres. This year, the group won a regional competition for college improv. They are now ready to bring their hilarity back to the Joan and Edgar Booth Theater. They will be offering a variety of shows this semester.

BU Music Theatre

Boston University has a long history of providing world-class musical education. Students can learn from distinguished professors and gain practical experience through production opportunities in professional Boston theatres like SpeakEasy. Students can also attend music and dance classes at the BU School of Music or participate in the Tanglewood Institute, located across the state in Lenox.

At BU, students discover their original voices as artists who will shape communities at home and abroad. They develop skills that transcend disciplines—and careers—through collaborations with professionals across the world of theatre.

Whether they choose acting, music theatre, directing, or design, our program is designed for multi-passionate students who are driven and self-aware. They are ready to excel and seek out the next level of excellence in their careers and lives.

BU Dance

Boston University is a top-tier research institution with a vibrant arts community. The school offers a conservatory-style training program that emphasizes collaboration and ensemble work. Students graduate with a BFA in theatre arts or an MFA in theatre design and production. The school also offers an artisan certificate in technical theatre.

Students are encouraged to explore the full breadth of the college experience, including off-campus internships and BU Hub coursework, which are integrated into the undergraduate student experience. Theatre arts performance majors satisfy BU Hub requirements through coursework within their major and cocurricular experiences.

BU Dance is the university’s dance team that performs at men’s and women’s basketball games, on-campus events, community service activities, local dance showcases and competitions. Members are dedicated to the promotion of campus spirit and take great pride in their performances. The group’s choreographers are professional dancers who provide their students with invaluable instruction and guidance. They offer a variety of styles, including ballet, hip hop and ballroom.

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Broadway-style musical training and themes at the University of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre.

The Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre offers conservatory-style training in the performing arts within a full liberal arts university. The program produces alumni who perform on Broadway and in national tours and regional theaters.

Modern book musicals integrate music and drama into well-made stories with serious dramatic goals. As the proverb says, “when emotion is too strong for speech, you sing.”


In the 19th century, modern Western musical theatre emerged with a structured form of entertainment incorporating songs and dances. Its structure was influenced by the popular music hall shows of Edwardian England, melodrama and burlesque, with characters and plotlines drawn from everyday life. These popular musical forms gave way to the more serious dramatic goals of the book musicals that Rodgers and Hammerstein developed in the 1930s.

In a well-crafted musical, the music and lyrics are fully integrated into a story with genuine dramatic goals and emotions other than laughter. Moments of greatest dramatic intensity are often conveyed through song, and a song may encapsulate an entire scene in fewer words than the corresponding block of dialogue in a play.

In recent decades, a new generation of writers have expanded the scope of musical theatre themes beyond the traditional romantic. For example, the musical South Pacific explored the issue of miscegenation more thoroughly than Show Boat, while West Side Story and Hedwig and the Angry Inch address gay and lesbian relationships.


Musical theatre performers need to be able to sing, act and dance well in order to draw audiences into the story and make it believable. They are also often required to be able to read music and understand the structure of a musical score, which includes prominent leitmotifs to help build character and drive the plot forward.

There are a number of different formats of musicals, including jukebox and book musicals. A jukebox musical is built around pre-existing songs, usually of a specific artist or genre, and may be rearranged to fit the storyline. A book musical will include a set of original songs written for the show.

Immersive theatre Developed by Augusto Boal, these styles place the audience at the centre of the action, encouraging them to interact with the characters and their decisions. This style allows the audience to see their own experiences reflected in those of the characters onstage. This type of theatre is often referred to as Forum or Promenade.


In contrast to a play where characters are represented by words, a musical relies on song to convey character and plot. This means that the writers must pack drama into much fewer words than in a straight play.

OU student Sydni Moon plays Mary, one of the only traditionally female roles in Jesus Christ Superstar. She said that the directors have opened up a space for her to explore the relationship between Jesus and Mary and how she can communicate that through her body.

Historically, many musicals have tackled controversial themes. From Showboat and West Side Story in the 1920s and ’50s to Hamilton today, musicals have addressed racism. More recently, the theme of racial tolerance has been explored through Hair, Falsettos and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The theme of homosexuality was also addressed in La Cage aux Folles and Rent. Themes are often a major focus in concept musicals, which are shows that are built around a single theme or message.


The audience of a musical theatre show may be as small as an intimate group or as large as a full house for a Broadway or West End production in New York or London. There are also many regional, off-Broadway and fringe theatre as well as community and amateur productions of musicals around the world.

The musical theatre form of entertainment is particularly popular in the United States and Great Britain, but there are also vibrant scenes for musicals in continental Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and Canada. Most stage musicals are presented in two acts with a short intermission. The first act introduces most of the characters and often a conflict or complication while the second act usually reprises important musical themes, brings resolution to the dramatic conflict and climaxes the entertainment.

For the 2023-24 audition process, OU Musical Theatre will adhere to the Musical Theater Common Prescreen requirements for Option A, which includes one 60-90 second monologue filmed in close-up (a head to chest shot). Please make sure that your media files are not continuously looping and that you include a slate at the beginning of your piece.

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