Community theatre is a truly wonderful thing. It brings like-minded people together who have one goal – to make entertaining theatre at the highest level possible for the production at hand. How a cast and crew end up working on a piece brings forth a combination of stories as varied as our backgrounds.
PLOS Musical Productions was established in the 1960s and it has become a company with an enviable reputation, a company which artists are keen to both join and come back to. Tess and Mon Sabatucci began their musical experiences with PLOS back in 2005 as members of the Annie company. Come 2017, and they are co-choreographing 9 to 5 for PLOS.
PLOS have assembled a production team for 9 to 5 which not only includes Tess and Mon from the PLOS family, but also welcomes two newcomers to the PLOS family – Joel Batalha as director, and Phill Scanlon as musical director.
Batalha credits Scanlon for his involvement in PLOS’ 9 to 5. “Phill said to me, ‘Joel, we should apply to work on 9 to 5!’ And because I trust Phill, I was like ok. I was about to get on a bus and head on a 15 day trip to central Australia. So I purchased the soundtrack and downloaded the synopsis and other relevant information and got to work with getting to know the show. It was very soon that I realised what an outstanding show this is and how Dolly Parton had translated the movie into a great musical. […] And in the middle of Australia, I had put my pad and pen to use and had created a concept”.
In joining PLOS for the first time, Scanlon feels very blessed. “I feel very lucky to be doing this show with such a wonderful, supportive and caring group. I’d love to come back and do another show at some stage”. Appropriately, it was the music of 9 to 5 which drew Scanlon to the project. “The songs have so much heart and meaning. There is something in there that really tells a story for each character. Whether sleezy Hart or Judy’s power ballad, Dolly Parton has really created something special with her music and lyrics”.
The Sabbatucci sisters were also drawn to the songs of 9 to 5. “The music is so upbeat and full of energy and there is such a variety of musical numbers it’s hard not to be drawn in by it”, reflects Tess. “As all the numbers are so different as well, the opportunity to choreograph with many dance styles was exciting and intriguing”.
If you don’t know the title song from 9 to 5, well, one can only assume that you’ve been living under a rock. And if you only know the title song of the show and none of the other numbers, rest assured, Dolly Parton’s score has much to offer. “it is the shows other songs that really hooked me into the show”, says Batalha. “Whether it is the poignant song ‘I Just Might’ where the three leads are contemplating moving forward and what that might bring, ‘Shine Like the Sun’ where there is a shift in power and Violet, Judy and Doralee take a chance to make things change or the power ballads like ‘Backyard Barbie’ or ‘Get Out and Stay Out’ that really delve into the heart of the show and story. Whilst ‘9 to 5’ is stunning, these songs have really hooked me into the world of these characters and challenges they are faced with and the choices they need to make to change the way they think and act in relation to how they are treated at a time when a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ of a man can make your life miserable. And sometimes, you just have change it”.
With such fabulous music to work with, the cast of PLOS’ 9 to 5 have been having a great time rehearsing. “This cast is so lively, hardworking and talented it has been an absolute pleasure working with them”, says Mon. “Every challenge we throw their way may it be dance, music or direction, they take on and work super hard to get it right. Couldn’t really ask for more from a production team point of view”.
Such dedication from the cast is a huge asset to the production as Parton’s score presents some vocal challenges – “The music is deceivingly difficult”, says Scanlon. “Harmonies are hard and can be very flashy, especially in the boys’ numbers”.
If you’re looking for a show that will make you laugh and cry, then PLOS’ latest offering is just what you’re looking for. In Batalha’s words, “Our 9 to 5 is a fast paced and high energy piece of theatre that is both witty and poignant. It has outstanding music that is well written and meaningful. And it will have you wanting to dance in the aisles”.
9 to 5 opens on Friday July 28th at the Frankston Arts Centre, and runs through until Saturday August 5th. Tickets are available from https://factix.frankston.vic.gov.au/en-AU/shows/9%20to%205%20the%20musical/events