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Carlynton students put in long hours to perform '9 to 5'

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Cast members of Carlynton High School's production of '9 to 5' perform the opening song during a rehearsal.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Senior Lindsey Lawrence as Dora Lee and senior Grant Schuler as Dwayne perform during rehearsal for Carlynton High School's production of '9 to 5.'
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Senior Seve Rodriguez and junior Maggie Smith practice their lines during rehearsal for Carlynton High School's production of '9 to 5.'
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Senior Lana Meyer as Violet performs during rehearsal for Carlynton High School's production of '9 to 5.'

Carlynton School District musical director Rob James sees plenty of male-centric scripts as he searches for a performance every year, but female productions are in shorter supply.

This year's pick, “9 to 5: The Musical,” is an exception. The show runs from April 11 to 13 at the junior-senior high school.

“What's really great and what's really rare about this show is that it features so many women,” James said. “That's rare to find in a musical, which always struck me as crazy because I find so many talented women performers … and we have a really strong cast of women this year.”

The musical, based on the 1980 movie of the same name, features three women working at a large corporation run by a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss.

The three women end up turning the tables on their boss.

“(My character) goes from this shy and innocent girl, and she transforms throughout the entire show,” said junior Maggie Smith, who plays Judy Bernly. “At the end, she becomes like the other two girls, who are strong and independent. It's just a really cool transformation.”

The movie, which starred Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, was updated for the stage in 2008. Featuring music and lyrics written by Parton, the musical premiered on Broadway in 2009.

“It's fun because it's a newer show (it closed on Broadway in 2010),” said senior Lana Meyer, who plays Tomlin's character of Violet Newstead. “It's nice to do a show like that because there's clips of it online – you can learn a lot about it that way.”

The musical is set in the late 1970s and features costumes and references from that era. Senior Lindsey Lawrence, who plays Parton's character, Doralee Rhodes, will get a “pair of Doralee boobs” for the performance, she said.

“It's like a piece,” she said, laughing.

The smarmy boss, Franklin M. Hart Jr. — played by Dabney Coleman and the movie and by senior Seve Rodriguez in Carlynton's production — fits into the 1970s as well.

“He's worse than everyone says he is,” Rodriguez said. “He really does hit on the secretary, and he is sexist and everything.

“It's tons of fun. I've always wanted to play the bad guy in a musical, and this is my one chance.”

Lawrence called her final musical at Carlynton — she's appeared in all four in her time at the school — a bittersweet experience.

“You love the musical, and it's one of the main things you're going to miss (from) high school,” she said. “It's my favorite thing. But it teaches you to stay focused and be on your toes, and it teaches you how to be a family. It's really good at teaching you life lessons.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or

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