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Women wreak justice and then some in ‘9 to 5’

Susan Moniz Kelli Cramer AlexandrPalkovic James Moye '9 5 The Musical' Marriott Theatre. | Phoby Peter Coombs Marriott Theatre

Susan Moniz, Kelli Cramer, Alexandra Palkovic and James Moye in "9 to 5, The Musical" at Marriott Theatre. | Photo by Peter Coombs and the Marriott Theatre

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‘9 to 5,
The Musical’

Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 14-Oct. 13

$40-$48, with discounts available for students and seniors. Dinner and theater tickets are available for $55 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. or (847) 634-0200

Updated: September 10, 2013 6:06AM

When it comes to revenge fantasies, it’s tough to top the over-the-top karmic justice meted out to Franklin Hart Jr.

As the douchenozzle, chauvinistic swine of a boss-from-hell in the musical “9 to 5,” Hart suffers a comeuppance that would fill any self-respecting, under-appreciated worker bee with glee. We’re not going to indulge in spoilers here, so we’ll just say the buffoonish villain of the musical ends up trussed up like a prize pig and — literally — hung out to dry.

“Obviously it’s a lot of fun to play the misogynistic boss that everybody hates,” says James Moye, who plays Franklin Hart in the Marriott Theatre production of “9 to 5,” opening Aug. 14. “The hunky ingenue is typically a more boring part,” he adds. “I’d much rather be the bad guy, the guy who really pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable.”

Tellingly, there is no hunky male ingenue in “9 to 5.” Franklin Hart’s humiliation notwithstanding, the musical, based on the 1980 movie of the same name, is all about the women who toil for him at Consolidated Industries. There’s the hard-working, uber-competent Violet Newstead (Kelli Kramer); single mom Judy Bernly (Susan Moniz); and Doralee Rhodes (Alexandra Palkovic), the blonde bombshell recipient of relentless, wholly unwanted amorous attentions from the horndog Hart.

With a score by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnik, “9 to 5” uses humor and a gleefully loopy plot to reveal the rampant sexism that Violet, Judy and Doralee endure — and eventually triumph over — in the corporate jungle.

The movie may be older than many of the people in the cast, notes Marriott director David Bell, but that doesn’t mean “9 to 5” tells a past-tense story. “To me, this is a statement about corporate America. Hart represents all those people who get ahead on the backs of the working class,” Bell says.

Moye agrees.

“From my vantage point as a man, listening to my wife and friends who work in other industries — sexism is still alive and well,” he says. “There’s been great progress over the past 30 years, but it’s still a factor. The show still strikes a nerve.”

With a score that includes country twangers like “Backwoods Barbie” and “Cowgirl’s Revenge” and an outrageous story that involves marijuana-stoked fantasies and rat poison getting mistaken for artificial sweetener, “9 to 5” isn’t exactly an academic treatise on gender equity. It makes its points via Parton’s infectiously catchy song hooks and over-the-top shenanigans.

For Palkovic, stepping into role Parton played in the movie doesn’t mean copying the country music icon.

“I’ve seen the movie like five times,” Palkovic says, “But for me, becoming Doralee means going into the script and learning as much about the character as I can. There are a lot of things about her I can relate to. Like Doralee, I am very much a girly-girl. She loves to wear makeup and a fab pair of heels. So do I. And I’ve encountered people who judge you solely on the way you look. They see the hair and the clothes and the makeup and they assume that’s all you are.”

In the end, says Palkovic, it is a story about empowerment, no matter what your gender. “The women take charge in ‘9 to 5,’ but really the story is about all the little guys, everybody who has ever been mistreated or looked down on or disrespected.”

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