I regret that due to an insane schedule, I am only able to write about events some weeks or days after they happen.  It has been my intent for some time to write a review of the funny, under appreciated 9 to 5.

I had been encouraged to see 9 to 5 by some theatre-crowd friends whose opinions I respected, so I eagerly accepted my first invitation to go.  Reviews, I understood, had been lukewarm, which in the theatre world usually means everyone loved it but the Times or vice versa.  I didn’t read the Times review until just now (for inspiration).  Having seen the show, I can only assume that Ben Brantley meant to write a piece entitled, “A Stodgy Old Fart Goes to Broadway.”

The curmudgeonly review opens by comparing 9 to 5 to Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist work, Exit the King. This is like comparing Ace Ventura: Pet Detective to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Both movies feature Jim Carrey, just as both shows are on Broadway.  But other than that, he is comparing apples to oranges, to put it mildly.  They are just completely different shows.  Brantley’s point is that in such an intellectually exciting season, 9 to 5 feels like tourist-pandering  froth.  And to that end, he’s right.  Movie musicals appeal to the ignorant tourist as well as to the risk-averse investor.  But that doesn’t mean the show’s not good.

Scenerychewer, for one, is glad to see a good, old-fashioned book musical starring adult actors in undeniably grown-up situations.  I am happy to hear a score that sounds like it was written for the stage with songs that, believe it or not, advance the plot and reveal new aspects of the characters.  I am happy to see three gifted actresses strut their stuff on a stage filled with unleashed character actors.  In short, the show is a stitch.  Go see it.  You’ll have a ball.

Scenerychewer is not proposing the show is without its flaws.  The only particularly memorable song is the title number, although there are plenty of memorable moments within the songs.  Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, which I liked so much in In the Heights, is a trifle too busy for my taste.  It seemed to be compensating for a slight lack of direction.  But the cast is first-rate, particularly Alison Janney and the hilarious Kathy Fitzgerald.  If you love good acting, a good laugh, and most of all, if you love musical theatre, go see this show.  You won’t be disappointed.

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/theater/reviews/01nine.html

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