QMT’s ‘9 to 5’ uses comedy to explore suppression & defiance

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Superb lighting, strong casting, and thoughtful social commentary—just a few of the reasons to watch Queen’s Musical Theatre’s (QMT) showing of 9 to 5

Based on the 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5 shares the story of a group of three women who end up running a corporation after kidnapping a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigoted,” boss who runs the company.

Feminism is front in centre in this musical as different women from different backgrounds are cast in the show. Even looking at the original storyline, there’s a widowed single mother, a recent divorcee, and a woman struggling with addiction. 

Producers at QMT worked to display an intersectional conversation around social issues. The best example of this was discussion around sexual harassment in the workplace. 

While there’s a comedic undertone, the producers balanced it with showing audience members the raw emotion inflicted upon survivors. Droalee Rhodes, played by Kahleah Brown-Roopnarine, BMuth ’24, experiences workplace ridicule and shaming because of the rumours spread by the executive, Franklin Hart Jr., played by Louis Chitiz, Msc. 

In Droalee’s case, the procedures juxtapose her isolation in the workplace with comradery and empowerment from fellow colleagues. Alongside these overarching themes was that of navigating a woman’s reliance on a man.

Judy Bernly’s character, played by Charlotte Salisbury, BMuth ’23, progresses throughout the musical to develop her own identity. She starts off as reminiscent, but gradually finds her voice and identity independent of her problematic ex-husband. 

Violet Newstead, played by Alexa Jacoby, ArtSci ’25, was always a natural born leader. Her character’s arc focuses on fighting back against the forces of the patriarchy to both find love and her voice at the seat of the table.

With QMT running 9 to 5, one can only hope that momentum continues with respect to the performance of stories about all women.

After the show, The Journal received a backstage tour of the stage. Staff on the production ranged from lighting, costume, and an in-house band. The show had many complex lighting and sound cues according to Paige La Fraugh, ArtSci ’23, QMT’s 9 to 5production manager. 

9 to 5 shows three people coming together from very different backgrounds and learning how to love one another and accept one another and work together under adversity, and to foster a caring working community for everybody,” La Fraugh said in an interview with The Journal

According to her, there are captions available during the show, and there’s a relaxed performance which cuts out potentially triggering matters for audience members. 

“We have our programs in digital forms that people can Zoom in on them [and] we will also have an audio version of the program available to anybody if they would like to use that,” La Fraugh said. 

For students in and outside the performing arts, musical theatre is vital in giving them a creative outlet and space on campus. La Fraugh believes student theatre enables innovation and helps them turn ideas into meaningful pieces. 

This winter, QMT is seeking a $0.50 opt-out AMS referendum fee. 

La Fraugh encouraged students to support this fee and to support their peers in the performing arts. She said the fee goes to keep theatre as open and accessible as possible. 

“We want students from all faculties to audition for our shows, be involved in our shows, be part of this production, witness this production […] By voting yes, you’re allowing us to create theatre by students for students,” La Fraugh said. 

“This is where a lot of people and a lot of your peers get to express themselves and be part of something fun and make friends and really learn about an art form that is so important to telling stories and changing the world.” 

The show is running until Jan. 28 in the Theological Hall. Tickets are still available for purchase online



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