St Hilda’s production of 9 to 5 The Musical screams ultimate girl power! In our journey through ‘Consolidated Industries,’ we meet three women who are connected in an unknown and surprising way. Violet (Anna Zehrung) is a widow who is constantly proving herself worthy of a promotion but is denied due to her gender. Doralee (Elsa Vartola) is your typical country bombshell who just wants to be seen for what’s underneath. Then there is Judy (Brianna Ekberg), a recently divorced lady just trying to find her place and start again. Each of these three women demonstrates one aspect of the many setbacks that women may face in the workforce.
Each character in the show was played with conviction and consistency. Zehrung played a stern Violet yet allowed us to see her softer side, and her craving for love. Vartola had a tough job carrying a thick Texan accent through both dialogue and vocals. This, I know, is a hard task and I think she did fantastically at staying true to Doralee’s heritage. Ekberg had a lovely soprano voice which highlighted the internal struggle of Judy well. All three had hard tasks as the three leads yet showed that friendship and girl power will always ‘shine through.’
Supporting leads also provided great comic relief and other hidden plots. Demitra McCarthy, as the sexually urged Roz, had an arousing performance in her love song to Mr. Hart (Carl Gasparini). This was the highlight of the show with McCarthy’s confidence, facial expressions and vocal dexterity eliciting much laughter from the audience. Gasparini attracted the same audience attention in his song ‘Here for You.’ He stunned the audience with his neat footwork, his consistent accent and his over-the-top gestures towards Doralee. He nailed the character description of a “Sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” Fred Williams , as Joe, helped lighten the mood in his quest for Violet’s love. William’s vocals added a certain charm and innocence to the show, something that was otherwise missing from the script.
Ensemble members looked constantly happy and enthusiastic which is always a pleasure to see. The choreography was simple and efficient for the calibre of skill, yet at some points it was forgotten by the cast. In general the lighting matched the mood well, although at some times lighting needed for the commencement of the scene was slightly slow and could have been altered for smoother transitions. The orchestra was a personal favourite of mine as live music always makes a show come to life. The orchestra was fairly strong with only a few missed notes here and there. The volume complimented the vocalists well; however, collaborative work needed to be done by the vocalists and the orchestra to avoid long music gaps when dialogue is going over the top.
Apart from just a few small things here and there, St Hilda’s College did an excellent job of performing an incredibly relevant musical. The cast looked like they had an enjoyable time and I can say with confidence, so did the audience! Well done to all involved and here’s to girl power!
St Hilda’s College Theatre Group’s production of 9 to 5 The Musical ran from the 8th-9th of September in the Union Theatre.