Stars Dinner Theatre has poured itself a cup of ambition to end its 2012-13 season. On Friday, the venue brings to life "9 to 5," the musical tale of workplace friendship and revenge.
If the title already has you humming the Dolly Parton anthem from the 1980 film, you're not alone. Director Bruce Saathoff said this show pays tribute to the workplace classic, which also starred Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and will interest fans.
"It (the film) was just on TV over Christmas vacation, and I watched it again. It reminded me how close the play is to the movie. I forgot how funny it is. ... I think the film resonates with a certain demographic and they will love the musical."
Along with being a fan of the film, Saathoff also holds a lifelong affection for the country star's music, making him a natural choice to direct the show.
"I grew up in Nebraska listening to Dolly Parton on my grandmother's eight-track player during Sunday afternoon rides in the country. How could I possibly turn it down?"
For those not familiar with the story, it follows the adventures of three women -- Violet (Jill Burdick), Doralee (Bethany Rowlee) and Judy (Jennifer Resolme) -- who take revenge on their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss, Franklin Hart, played by Adam Cline.
Although most of the characters hate the man in charge, he has one defender: his assistant, Roz (Tamara White). Her role is more prominent than in the film, a change that Saathoff said should interest audiences.
"In the movie, she's just the secretary, that little bit. They gave her a big production number (in the show), how she loves Hart (called "Heart to Hart"). You wouldn't expect that of the part. ... I think people will be pleased that Roz's role has been expanded."
Along with that show-stopping number, the show features the title song and an assortment of tunes written by Parton. With vocal work arranged by Char Gaines, many songs highlight the three talented leads.
"I love the music in this show. In Act 2, Judy, played by Jennifer Resolme, sings a song called 'Get Out and Stay Out' that is amazing. It's her affirmation of self-worth and her acknowledgement that she doesn't need a man for her life to have worth. Great musical theater."
Choreographed by Brent Rochon and Marnie Forzetting, a group number stands out for Saathoff as well: "I also love 'Change It,' which is the entire cast singing about changing things to make life better. It's a Dolly Parton classic, and I love this arrangement."
Key to the show is the theme of improving one's lot in life, which Saathoff believes gives "9 to 5" legs far beyond its source material.
"I think the actual story is pretty timeless. Taking charge of your life and making it for the better. That's a message that rings true all the time. It's not just about women's rights -- that was an issue when it came out in the '80s. It's an affirmation of your entire life."
Upcoming Stars season
With "9 to 5" ending the season at Stars, Saathoff said he doesn't know what's next for him, although he's looking forward to the new season starting in March.
"I am very excited about this season and a little scared at the same time. It's hugely ambitious."
The season begins in March with "South Pacific," directed by Sheryl Cleveland. (Directors for other shows had not been selected as of press time.)
Other big productions include "Les Miserables" -- the all-singing Broadway version -- "Monty Python's Spamalot and "The Producers."
The full season:
"South Pacific" (March 1 to 23);
"The Fox on the Fairway" (April 12 to 27), a farce set at a country club;
"My Way" (May 31 to June 15), a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra;
"Monty Python's Spamalot" (July 5 to 27);
"Disney's Beauty and the Beast" (Aug. 16 to Sept. 7);
"Les Miserables" (Sept. 27 to Oct. 19);
"Barefoot in the Park" (Nov. 8 to 23), Neil Simon's classic comedy;
"Merry Christmas at Stars" (Dec. 6 to 21);
"The Producers" (Jan. 17 to Feb. 8, 2014), a Mel Brooks musical.
Saathoff said pulling off such an impressive lineup will take a team effort.
"I feel confident that Bakersfield has the talent to pull it off, but we'll need all hands on deck. It's going to be a great ride."