AUBURN — Fast-paced fun from beginning to end spells “HIT” for the current production of “9 to 5” by Community Little Theatre.

Exceptional vocals by the three leading ladies and several others in this musical comedy are the foundation of this show’s success. It’s built on solid production values, very good choreography and top-to-bottom enthusiasm.

“9-to-5” is a Broadway re-make of the 1980 film comedy that starred Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Those roles get exceptional treatment on the local stage thanks to the vocal and comedic talents of Rhonda Webber, Sabrina Yocono, and Jennifer McGlure-Groover.

Dolly Parton’s smash recording of her song became the basis for the movie about under-appreciated women in the office workplace. Almost 30 years after that film, Dolly Parton augmented her hit song with about 20 more tunes for this musical version. It had a short run on Broadway in 2009.

The title song opens the show as we see the cast “tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen” and before long the action is in high gear at the offices of Consolidated. It’s a big business headed by sleazy Franklin Hart, Jr., whose management style is “all taking and no giving.”

Yocono makes her CLT stage debut in this show, and it’s a blockbuster appearance. As Violet, she’s the catalyst for long-overdue reform in the secretarial pool. She’s the take-charge force that puts the three ladies in a nearly disastrous situation when they kidnap the boss and begin to run the office with a new set of rules.

The Act Two opening song called “One of the Boys” highlights Yocono’s strong vocal and acting ability. Although she is new on the CLT stage, Yocono has a long list of theater credits with Monmouth Community Players, Theater at Monmouth and other companies.

Rhonda Webber, a CLT veteran performer, plays Doralee, the Dolly Parton role. Lots of laughs are rolled into her impression of the country music legend. Her vocals do full justice to the tunes including her solo on “Backwoods Barbie.”

McGlure-Groover also is a CLT veteran of many shows. Among them are “Damn Yankees” a number of years ago and the more recent production of “Spamalot.” Her portrayal of Judy, the newcomer to the office staff, is well-developed and appropriately less frantic than some of the other parts. In her solo song, “Get Out and Stay Out,” leading into the finale, she lets loose with a triumphant salute to the new office policy as the sleazy boss gets his come-uppance.

Renée Davis, who has played lead roles in memorable CLT musicals for three decades, gives a great performance as Roz. She’s the assistant to the boss, and her misguided admiration for the louse is belted out in impressive Broadway style when she signs “Heart to Hart.” She also does a fine job on “5 to 9” which reverses the sentiments of the title song.

Dan Kane, appearing in his sixth CLT production, is hilarious as the boss, Franklin Hart, Jr. His role shines in the three fantasy scenes when the trio of Doralee, Violet and Judy imagine how they would like to see Hart meet his well-deserved demise.

Jay Barrett, in his fourth CLT show, plays Joe. It’s a small role that develops romantic interest with Violet. Their duet, “Let Love Grow,” is pleasant and effective contrast to the frenzied tempo of the show.

Other actors making good impressions in the roles of this large cast are Mary Turcotte as Margaret, who turns her substance abuse problems around, Phil Vampatella, Consolidated’s chairman of the board, and Sean Wallace as Judy’s ex-husband.

Paul G. Caron, director of CLT’s “9 to 5,” earns top marks for the quality of the production. In program notes, he said his choice of this show was based on “entertaining the patrons” rather than any deeper agenda, although he recognized that issues of empowerment of women in the workplace get important attention here.

The set by Bill Hamilton and Carole Hodgkin, supported by a big crew, is outstanding. Many scenes make use of imaginative construction and props.

Music director Jennifer Caron leads an 11-piece orchestra. Their contribution is excellent.

Lighting, sound and costumes are also well balanced and effective throughout the performance.

Remaining performances of “9 to 5” are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 19-21, and 2 p.m. Sunday. March 22.

To purchase tickets go online to www.laclt.com or call 783-0958.

Performances are at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy Street in Auburn.

Editor’s note: Edited to update that Mary Turcotte plays Margaret.


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