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‘9 to 5 The Musical’ works its way into the Chemainus Theatre

9 to 5 will be working hard to make theatre lovers laugh until Aug. 25

Theatre buffs will be thrilled to know that 9 to 5 The Musical, a stage adaptation of the popular 1980 comedy film and the book by Patricia Resnick, has worked its way into the lineup of shows at Chemainus Theatre Festival this season and will run from June 28 to Aug. 25. 

Toronto-based director Julie Tomaino, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is thrilled to be back to direct 9 to 5 at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, and said fans of the film can expect a lot of great scenes plucked right from it. Tomaino has worked on four productions with the Chemainus Theatre since 2016. 

“I was drawn to direct this production as it is based on the 9 to 5 movement which was born out of Boston in the early ‘70s,” said Tomaino. “It encompasses women empowerment, and it’s just a beautiful story of three strong women who have struggles, and find their way, and it’s just a wonderful story of friendship.” 

The story opens with Judy (Sarah Carlé Owen) a new employee to the office still reeling from a recent heartbreak from her cheating husband. Green to the scene she befriends her new co-workers Violet (Stephanie Roth), a hard-working single mother who takes her under her wing, and Doralee (Jennie Neumann) a real spitfire who has her hands full trying to fend off the unwanted advances of her handsy boss Franklin Hart. Jr played by W. Joseph Matheson. The trio of working women face off against their slimy boss while showing him the definition of girl power. 

This is Owen’s 10th production with the Chemainus Theatre, previously appearing in Grease. Owen trained at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, with a background in musical theatre and a love for singing R&B and pop. She has called Chemainus home since 2020. 

“It’s so great to now live and work here,” said Owen. 

“I have loved discovering Judy’s journey throughout this show, and finding her honesty through comedy. Emotionally, she has a really big journey and is a very different lady at the start of the story compared to the end. Judy can be a little bit klutzy, silly, and unsure sometimes, and I can definitely see a little bit of her [in me] at times.” 

This Is Roth and Owen’s second time sharing the Chemainus Theatre stage — they were in Rock Legends together in 2017 — and have been friends ever since. Roth, who is originally from Woodstock, Ontario has been acting, singing, and dancing all over the world since she was 16 years old, also appeared in Chemainus Theatre’s Mamma Mia. Roth’s husband who is also an actor, musician, and music director has worked on a handful of productions with the Chemainus Theatre. The two fell in love with the area, and have been living in Ladysmith for the last three years. 

“The people here are so welcoming that it feels like a family and it’s just so great to see some familiar faces,” said Roth. 

“The enthusiasm behind this show is palpable, and just so great to be working with friends again. Violet is so diverse and I really enjoy how polar she can be, she can be the straight man, and then she gets hysterical and goes through quite a gamut of emotions, and I think that’s a real fun place to be. I think there is a little bit of us in every role that we play, and I think there is a little bit of Violet in me. We work really hard to do what we do, and I haven’t laughed this hard in a really long time, and that is a real gift. Julie has done an excellent job of creating a safe space for us to explore, and to have a good time.” 

“My favourite [thing] about directing this production has been the cast,” said Tomaino. “They are so strong and just such talented actors, singers, dancers, and all around just beautiful humans.” 

Rounding out the cast is Ali Watson, Laura Ross, Antony Knight, Josh Graetz, Pedro M. Siqueira, Georgia Bennett, Cassandra Consiglio, and Vincente Sandoval. It takes a lot more than an eight-hour work day to bring a production like this to life. The dream team lending hands offstage include musical director Heather Burns, assistant director and choreographer Makayla Moore, fight director Simon Fon, set designer Hans Saefkow, costume designer Patricia Reilly, and lighting designer Craig Alfredson, while managing the stage are Bonni Baynton, Liz King, Kelsey Cain, and Mandy Huang. 

The musical stays true to the movie which grossed over $103.9 million and has been ranked No. 74 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest movies of all time. Thorough a hilarious series of foibles, misunderstandings, and mistaken identities the three ladies find themselves kidnapping their sexist, and bigot boss Hart. 

What will come of these drastic measures? Will the boss man learn who’s really in charge, and will the ladies finally get to toil away in a non-toxic, productive and supportive office environment where employees can finally find themselves loving life, or at least affectionately tolerating it between the hours of 9 to 5? 

Tickets start from $22, and are available online at or by calling the box office at 250-246-9820. 

“It’s just as wild, wacky, and heartfelt as the original story and includes many iconic scenes plus, more music by Dolly Parton and that woman knows how to write a song,” said Tomaino. “I hope that audiences are entertained and reminisce about the movie if they are fans of it. I also hope the next generation feels empowered to stand in their own strength as women. I always say that I am doing this for my nieces, they are the reason to do anything with my life. Even still in 2024 there is a wage gap between genders, and we still need to tell this story because of that.” 

About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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