Remember the movie? It's a classic. Three women (played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton), sick of their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss, accidentally on-purpose hog-tie him, kidnap him and keep him as a prisoner in his home while they run the office, and improve the livelihood of, well...everything.
Last night, DanCap Productions opened 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, a play that's similar to the film, but with a few additions. Violet (the LIly Tomlin character, played by Dee Hoty in the stage version) has a love interest with a junior accountant (an addition that didn't help the plot or character arc of Violet so I wish it was left out), recent divorcee Judy (Jane Fonda in the movie and now played with absolute joy by Mamie Parris) has a few more run-ins with her ex-husband, and Dorleen (Dolly Parton's infamous character, played this time by a dead-ringer for Dolly, in both looks and voice, Diana DeGarmo) has a few more singing solos that aren't included in the movie. (But when you hear DeGarmo's rendition of "Backwoods Barbie", you really wish they had been!) Overall the production was fun and fabulous and totally Dolly-riffic.
But what interested me most about the show was the extra feminist twist that the additional songs gave it. Parris' Judy has a give-you-chills number, "Get Out and Stay Out", about how she doesn't need a man anymore because she's just fine on her own, and during the epilogue at the end of the show, we learn that she never actually gets married again. DeGarmo's Dorleen has a couple of solos, including the pitch-perfect "Backwoods Barbie", about how she's harshly judged by men and women for the way she looks, but that she's still determined to stay true to herself. Both of her songs shed light on men and women's prejudices against those who don't adhere to our uptight principles and make us feel insecure. Hoty's Violet is a career woman who has been consistently passed over for promotions from her sexist boss and has her own solo, "One of the Boys", about how fantastic it would be to fill the role of a female CEO. All of these numbers and additional story lines aren't groundbreaking nor will they go on to make waves tin feminist circles, but they do add the important essence of girl power that is present in the film, but, unfortunately, would be otherwise missing from the musical.
I have the utmost respect for Dolly Parton. She's a pioneer who had the strength to play her game by her own rules, despite what all the cowboys in Tennessee had to say. She's also the kind of feminist, feminists like to look down on; she flaunts her womanly "attributes" and makes them work for her as opposed to pretending they don't exist. Dolly could easily have let Violet, Judy and Dorleen be the watered down, desperate-for-love, characters like so many other leading female roles on the stage, but she didn't. She hitched on her wig, pulled in her corset and dug in her 6" heels to breathe additional life into them the best way Dolly can; through song. These 3 women who won't break the feminist mold but do have a place in it, so cynics, please don't hate them, and Dolly, just because you can.
The 2011 Dora Mavor Moore Awards took place last night at the Bluma Appel Theatre and it was a lovely occasion filled with members of the Toronto theatre community.
Although there are plenty of cynical cynics who have a hate-on for the Doras, and think that they're political, etc. etc., I do think it's important to celebrate Toronto theatre, and, yes, also to give awards to the select performances deemed worthy. I think it helps to increase the calibre of theatre in our fair city.
For a full list of Dora Award winners, click here.
The Doras also allow Toronto theatre practitioners a forum for networking and comraderie that isn't readily available and given the scandal of the SummerWorks festival losing it's $45K in Heritage Funding 39 days before the start of the 2011 festival, the Dora Awards could not have been more aptly timed. Ben Chiasson, winner of the Pauline McGibbon Award, which is given to an artist at the early stage of his/her career, went even further with his support and promised some of his award money to SummerWorks to help bridge their financial gap. What a peach.
When I heard that I felt good. Really...good about life. Mr. Chiasson made a simple, sincere gesture that reminds us of what we, as humans, are capable of, and that sharing the wealth IS, in fact, in our nature no matter how hard we try to pretend it isn't.
Thank you Ben Chiasson for reminding us of what we need to strive for and thank you Dora Awards for providing a venue for the rivalry, gossip, politics and 'drama' to be put on hold, at least for one night.
The Luminato Festival kick-off is on June 10 and a common comment I’ve heard from those who don’t frequent the arts world, is: “What the hell is Luminato.”
The Luminato Festival takes over the Toronto streets for 10 days of fabulous creativity, featuring all artistic disciplines (theatre, dance, art, music, lit, visual art, etc.) and invites anyone and everyone to attend. It boasts a huge roster of events, including heaps of FREE events and it’s all VERY well organized on their website: luminato.com. Their website is ridiculously user-friendly.
And before you say it, Luminato is not just for arts enthusiasts; you don’t have to be well-versed on long-dead classical music composers or the most recent post-whatever movement in sculpture. You can go and witness cool circus performers, outdoor jam sessions, film screenings and fashion shows; there is so much going on you can’t possibly see it all. So how does one unfamiliar to the Luminato scene navigate it? I’ll tell you.
DO visit luminato.com ASAP. From there, scroll through the ‘All Events’ page and find pieces that interest you OR: pick a date(s) that you’re available and pick events happening that day OR: choose an area of the city and concentrate your efforts on a few city blocks so transport is simple. Who knows what you might see on your route? If you’re die-hard on a particular event, buy the tickets in advance; the festival is popular and you don’t want to be disappointed!
DON'T overbook yourself. I’ve done that and the last few events didn’t get my full attention because I was pooped and some of the others weren’t fully enjoyed as I was stressed about getting to the next venue. (This is a very" me" thing to do and I don’t recommend it.)
Any free events are clearly labelled on the website with a green icon that says FREE!
There are loads of family-friendly events too so bring the wee ones and they’ll love it. The band "They Might Be Giants" is playing a free event and they’re guaranteed to be hilarious, silly and educational. For reals.
Theatrical highlights: Necessary Angel’s "Andromache" and "Tout Comme Elle (Just Like Her)", "One Thousand and One Nights", "Taj", the National Ballet's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", etc.
Luminato is a unique extravaganza in the city of Toronto and its well worth taking advantage of.
So do it!
And, as always, if you've got any questions about it, please feel free to contact me! I'm more than happy to help.