Photo contributed by Brad Rankin
Heather Tomko, Victoria Parrish, and Valerie Duncan appear as Judy, Violet and Doralee in Market House Theatre's production of the musical comedy "9 to 5," opening in September. Audiences will follow the three women as they gain respect in the workplace.
Think you’ve had a bad day at work? Wait until you meet the women of Market House Theatre’s latest production.
With songs and lyrics by Dolly Parton, “9 to 5: The Musical” takes audiences back to 1979, when women struggled to gain respect, both at home and in the workplace.
Violet, played by Victoria Parrish, does her best as a widow raising a teenaged son. She doesn’t care much for co-worker Doralee (Valerie Duncan), a bubbly, blond Southern belle.
Judy (Heather Tomko) is new to the company, entering the work force because her husband dumped her for a 19-year-old.
Their disgust for their pompous boss Franklin Hart (Tom Dolan) unites the trio, and they form a friendship when they accidentally poison Hart’s coffee, kidnap him and start running the company to keep Hart from blackmailing them.
According to stage director Michael Cochran, the comedy portrays a moment when women moved from holding secretarial positions to being considered for managerial roles. “It’s a women’s show about that changing role of women (...) in work and in the culture,” Cochran said.
The leading actresses of the 20-person cast come from different employment backgrounds, but agree that there is an element of truth to the events they portray onstage.
“I think while the show is very funny, there’s also the underlying important message that women are as accepted and as capable of doing the same jobs of men in the office environment,” said Tomko, a 28-year-old freight contract analyst with AEP River Operations.
“I would even venture to compare it to the river industry as a whole. It has been a male-dominated industry for many, many years, and it still is,” Tomko said.
She added that while women are still a minority where she works, they are beginning to break down the barriers that have separated the genders.
Parrish, 45, also sees parallels between the comedy and her experience as an employee at a car dealership.
“I definitely noticed in a male-dominated field ... the preconceptions are still there. You still have to prove yourself. Not only prove yourself smart, but prove that you’re more than a woman, that you can do what a man does,” she said.
However, the actresses believe that progress has been made since the time in which the musical is set.
“I think there is still some older thinking out there, but not nearly as much,” Parrish said. “I’m glad that we are where we are today. ... Our daughters don’t have to put up with that.”
While it deals with women’s issues, “9 to 5” is geared toward entertaining audiences of both genders. “I think that men will get a kick out of the show, but also realize the message underneath, and maybe go give a little extra support to the women in their lives,” Tomko said.
“9 to 5: The Musical” opens MHT’s 49th season on Sept. 6 and runs through the 22nd. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 270-444-6828, or by visiting MHT’s web site at www.mhtplay.com.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 575-8641.
Want to go?
What: “9 to 5,” a musical comedy.
When: Sept. 6-22.
Where: Market House Theatre, 132 Market House Sq.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 270-444-6828, or by visiting MHT’s web site at www.mhtplay.com.