Katie Angell, Jesica Crilley and Jennifer Hope plot revenge against their chauvinistic boss in the musical adaptation of the film, 9 to 5, currently playing at Broward Stage Door in Coral Springs. Credit: George Wentzler

For years, I overlooked the consistently poor sound at Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs. I excused the bombastic levels as a necessary compromise because the company primarily serves seniors bused in from local retirement communities. After all, Stage Door is one of the few theaters that consistently sells out shows, seniors or not, in two theaters, no less. Who can blame them for meeting the needs of their loyal customers.

But, no more.

The sound proved disastrous at last week’s matinee performance of 9 to 5, the musical adaptation of the 1980 film about three secretaries (Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton) who exact revenge on their misogynistic boss (Dabney Coleman) and turn around a “Old Boys’ Club” corporation.

Any good homosexual with a current gay card can recite most of the movie’s funniest lines along with the characters, so there’s little need to recap the premise of the musical, which was adapted very closely by co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick with additional music by Parton.

From the opening number through most of the first act, the performance was marred by feedback, screeches, crackling and balance problems that left some of the show’s most poignant moments inaudible or indiscernible. In a show about workplace abuses, the sound is the real hazard to all.

Broward Stage Door relies on soundtracks created by the talented David Cohen—an economical choice, if less than live—but through much of the show, the principals were drowned out, especially Jesica Crilley’s Doralee.

Technical issues aside, the performances, under the direction of Dan Kelley, are also uneven. The three leads do their best with iconic roles that can hardly be imagined as portrayed by anybody other than Tomlin, Fonda and Parton. Even the original 2009 Broadway cast, led by Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty, had difficulties convincing critics and audiences.

Angell just doesn’t convey the dry sarcasm of Tomlin’s Violet and most of the show’s one-liners, in her hands, fall flat, even on an audience that was still arguably in their prime in 1980. Crilley, in the role created by and for a singer, lacks the vocal heft and range for Parton’s pleasant score, which touches on country, blues and classic rock idioms.

Jennifer Hope offers the standout moment as Judy belts Get Out and Stay Out late in the second act, finally asserting her independence from her philandering ex-husband. And every time Shane Tanner (Franklin Hart, Jr.) takes the stage, along with Cindy Pearce as Roz, Hart’s lovelorn office manager, the show gets an invigorating jolt of energy.

Resnick’s book is cinematic in feel, shifting scenes quickly, and the Stage Door crew effectively utilize a turntable in the center of the stage to facilitate those quick changes. Chrissy Ardito’s choreography cleverly services the ensemble numbers in the office well, also, despite the constraints created by the turntable.

This winter, Stage Door is bringing in an extended run of Wiesenthal, Tom Dugan’s award-winning, one man show about Simon Wiesenthal, the driven hero who brought thousands of Nazi war criminals to justice. It’s certain to be a moneymaker and I hope Stage Door will use those proceeds to upgrade the theater’s sound system. A show about the past should serve as an investment for Stage Door’s future. Otherwise, somebody really will call OSHA.

If You Go
9 to 5: The Musical
8 p.m. Friday – Saturday; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, through Jan. 19,
Broward Stage Door Theatre
8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs
Tickets $38 at StageDoorTheatre.org