Women’s Lib Has Finally Hit Broadway

April 28, 2009

Just when I was getting tired of seeing women dancers play cutesy, ditsy sex objects in Broadway musicals, along comes 9 to 5, the Dolly Parton–inspired musical about working women. I’ve never been big on country music, but this musical pulls way out ahead of the others in how it portrays women. When watching Rock of Ages, Pal Joey, and Guys and Dolls, I was bummed out by the retro way women in the ensembles had to prance around—the worst old-fashioned stereotypes of showgirls. Scantily clothed, they are really just singing, dancing sexual decor. It was even true of the fishy ensemble in The Little Mermaid! But in 9 to 5, set in an office, three women stage a coup and basically take over the office. It’s a feminist revolution! A female CEO becomes first a dream, a forbidden concept, and then a reality.

    Plus, the show is actually funny—really funny and clever. Not the kind of sexist jokes that made Young Frankenstein fun, but something for women of all ages to get a kick out of—delicious fantasies about what to do with the male chauvinist pig of a boss they were subjected to. And Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography for office workers, with simple moves and brilliant staging, totally works. Bravo!

    What I saw was a preview. The show officially opens tomorrow. I hope you can catch it.