‘9 to 5 The Musical’ great ending to season of premieres

Stage Review

Kathryn Holtkamp (from left on floor), Lina Aiko Krueger and Lia Krieg-DeSouza bond with a doobie after a bad day at the office in Maui OnStage’s season finale production of “9 to 5 The Musical.” • Jack Grace photo

Set in the late 1970s, “9 to 5 The Musical” gets off to a scintillating start with its well-known title track and transitions wonderfully into “Around Here.” In this introductory number we meet Violet Newstead, an inspired interpretation by Lina Aiko Krueger, and Judy Bernly (Kathryn Holtkamp).

Holtkamp is adorably witty from her first entrance in an old-fashioned, white sun hat, which Krueger suggests will require a “special locker.” Holtkamp explains to the audience that she is a novice secretary just entering the work force as a result of her husband Dick (Jim Oxborrow) dumping her for his 19-year-old secretary, “Mindi, with an I.”

Jerry Eiting offers a superb performance as the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” Franklin Hart Jr., CEO of “Consolidated.”

In a brilliantly funny and somewhat distasteful number “Here For You,” we discover Hart’s lust for Doralee Rhodes (Lia Krieg-De-Souza), his buxom blonde secretary.

Director Kalani Whitford gets four-for-four results with casting as Krieg-DeSouza offers perhaps the finest portrayal of the “9 to 5” leads, showcasing an excellent country-western vocal style most notably on her solo number “Backwoods Barbie.”

Easily the most uproarious scene finds the female trio sharing a doobie that Violet’s son Josh (Elisha Cullins) “slips in her purse.” When Judy asks “what did you say this is called,” Violet answers “Maui Wowie,” a line directly from Patricia Resnick’s script, which receives a big local laugh.

A self-described child of the ’80s, Whitford also choreographs “9 to 5” and rather than simply copying the Broadway choreography, he and assistants Dejah Padon and Ellen Peterson have inserted a few familiar moves from several 1980s dance films like “Flashdance” and “Dirty Dancing.”

The orchestra, lead by conductor Richard Vetterli, skillfully maneuvers through Dolly Parton’s eclectic and, at times, choppy score which varies from pop to country to soulful ballads and the more traditional Broadway sounding numbers, like “One For the Boys,” which features impeccable male harmonies and a knockout performance by Krueger. Another outstanding song is Holtkamp’s powerful “Get Out and Stay Out” which elicited thunderous applause on opening night.

In a featured role Lisa Teichner steals the show several times with her comedic delivery and downright creepiness as sycophant Roz Keith, who shares her disturbing hunger for the boss in “Heart to Hart.”

The highly amusing ending of “9 to 5” offers a series of mini-monologues that reveal what happened to the main characters over the next 30 years. Elements of Parton and Resnick’s libretto may appear trite, but what makes “9 to 5” work is that it is extremely funny and absolutely loaded with innumerable laugh-out-loud one- liners.

• Maui OnStage continues “9 to 5 The Musical.” Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through August 6 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40. To purchase tickets call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.