Monroe Township High School’s drama club worked incredibly hard to bring the crazy and empowering story of “9 to 5” to life, spending a majority of their time ensuring that their shows were perfect.
“9 to 5” was performed on April 20, 21 and 22 at 7 P.M. and on April 23 at 3 P.M. During intermission, refreshments and t-shirts were sold. All profits went to the drama club.
Director Mr. Robert Byrnes, choreographer Candice Theinert, and the rest of the cast and crew worked to bring out the talents of the students and put on an excellent show. Byrnes and Theinhert gave excellent critique and taught them the music and dances. The students had to correctly memorize the songs, dances and lines for the musical to fall in place.
Freshman Shannon Leff says, “Mr. Byrnes taught us all the music, got costumes, played piano [and] conducted the pit. He basically put the whole show together besides the choreography. Miss Theinhert . . . made sure we looked awesome up on that stage dancing. We were taught [the] choreography by her and went over it for hours…. She was really the glue for this show!”
For two months, the club rehearsed for the upcoming show. Practices were whenever a cast member was called for after school. There wasn’t a scheduled time, but it usually ended around 5 P.M. Cast members were often called to practice multiple times a week. As the shows inched closer, the cast began having Sunday rehearsals that lasted as long as eight hours.
“Tech Week” is a week before the shows, and the entire cast goes through the whole musical with lighting, costume, props and all of the final details to ensure that everything is ready. It was a very frustrating week for most, but everyone pulled through to make the show amazing.
Members of the drama club grew closer during the countless hours spent perfecting the play. Cooperation with one another is key in a successful performance, so the cast having such close friendships made working with each other easy. Almost everyone was left with dear memories that they will never forget.
Freshman Cedrick Caballar says, “I made a lot of new friends working on the play. They really made me feel welcome. At first, I thought everyone would hang with their respective grades, but the first people I met at auditions were the most sweetest and nicest people I’ve ever met. Overall, the atmosphere is very friendly. Drama club is like a family, and at the end of everything, we love each other.”
When everyone got to work, the talent of every single cast member shined through in the characters they played. When Judy Bernly (sophomore Annabella D’Aversa) starts work at her first office job at Consolidated Industries after a divorce, she is very bad at her job. Her supervisor, Violet Newstead (senior Miranda Crowley), takes up the challenge and expertly teaches her how to succeed. D’Aversa had no problem acting out the complex range of hurt and confusion that Bernly felt after being thrown into the world of divorce and career. D’Aversa’s acting and deep understanding of her character helped the audience truly feel sympathy for Bernly, and everyone rooted for her in her journey to success.
D’Aversa says, “I think some of my most favored aspects of being in the cast of ‘9 to 5’ was immersing myself into the story and as one of the lead characters. Theatre is one of my passions, and being able to improve my skills as a actress and performer made the whole experience more enjoyable . . . I definitely feel a connection between Judy’s personality and my own, not only through how I carry myself but also through my reactions. Judy is observant yet not aware of what is happening at times; she listens to other people’s problems before sharing her own. Judy begins as a follower, but soon learns to be more confident and independent, which is what I hope to become in the future.”
Crowley also clearly showed everyone the struggles that Newstead had to endure. Newstead is the most unique of the characters: a hard-working mother and widow in search of a promotion. She finally stands up for herself and inspires the awestruck audience. Crowley passionately expresses every aspect of Newstead to the point where it seemed like her character was a real person.
Crowley says, “‘9 to 5′ was a wild ride. Getting Violet was a complete dream. I had no idea that I was being considered for the role, but in the end it turned out to be a great character for me. Both Violet and I are all about girl power. Having the opportunity to explore a role that was so similar to who I am, but also different because of age and experience, was the perfect way to end my high school career. As a senior though, the greatest part about the show was performing with my drama friends for the last time. We’re all really close so it was a bittersweet moment that I’ll remember for a long time.”
Their sexist boss, Franklin Hart Jr. (senior Peter Toto), is notorious for making inappropriate moves on employee Doralee Rhodes (junior Taylor Viana) and treating the women of the office cruelly. Hart creates a miserable atmosphere at work because of his strict and unfair rules. Toto’s excellent portrayal of Hart’s sour, sexist and selfish personality made it easy for anyone to really despise the character.
Hart even spreads rumors about having an affair with Rhodes, and Rhodes is pushed away by everyone, even by newbie Bernly. Viana displayed her talents throughout the show when she showed the audience Rhodes’ false happiness, her deep sadness and confusion toward being rejected at work, and her determination to seek revenge on Hart.
Hart eventually goes as far as firing Mary Lamb (senior Samantha Rasimowicz) for discussing salaries when trying to prove that he pays women less than men, and he continues to refrain from promoting Newstead.
Newstead accidentally poisons Hart’s coffee. One sip of the tainted coffee was not enough to harm him, but Newstead, Bernly, and Rhodes did not know that. The trio frantically rush to the hospital and learn that Hart was alive and well.
In an effort to conceal the incident, Rhodes, Bernly, and Newstead kidnap Hart. In his absence, the three change things for the better at Consolidated Industries, such as offering rehab for alcoholics and daycare for the children of busy employees.
Hart escapes, but is given a promotion by Chairman of the Board Tinsworty (freshman Max Simon) and sent to Bolivia permanently. Tinsworthy then promotes Newstead to CEO of the company.
The setting of the stage played a part in setting the mood for each scene. It was especially prominent when Hart sang “I’m Here For You,” and the lights were a deep red and black to heighten Hart’s dark lust for Rhodes. The cast and crew also quickly moved props in between scenes, which is difficult to do in less than a minute. They even move a vanity for one scene without a problem. Props made “9 to 5” a lot more realistic and made the setting more like the Consolidated Industries office more than an actual stage.
For four nights in a row, the cast of “9 to 5” wowed the audience with their singing, acting and dancing. They radiated a humorous yet deep and emotional aura throughout the show. Comedic modern references added in such as Nike’s “Just do it” slogan and the informercial lights that “Clap on, clap off” kept everyone giggling. However, the actors also enlightened the audience of the harsh reality of unequal treatment and bias in the workplace, for it is still an issue even today. The entire cast’s passion for the musical really shined through and captured the audience, making the musical a very enjoyable experience for everyone.
To join MTHS’s drama club and become a part of successful productions like “9 to 5,” all one has to do is look for the audition sheets and attend one of the two audition dates listed. After being a part of the cast or crew of a production, a student officially becomes a member of the drama club.
If you attended, what did you enjoy most about the play?