Friday, November 5, 2010

'9 to 5:' Broadway Comes to Beale Street

We recently enjoyed a night out at The Orpheum watching "9 to 5." I must admit that we weren't planning to attend but a last-minute opportunity presented itself and we couldn't refuse.

After we recently had Orpheum season tickets and attended "Wicked" last week, you might be wondering why we weren't planning to see "9 to 5" in Memphis. Well, we saw it last year on Broadway. It wasvery entertaining then and I assumed the touring version would not live up.

While I still think the Broadway version was better (I mean, Allison Janney as Violet was seriously brilliant on Broadway), the performance in Memphis is very entertaining. The actors were all different, but shined in their own ways.

Dee Hoty plays Violet Newstead

If I would have been sitting higher and unable to see her face, I would have thought Dee Hoty as Violet was Janney. Hoty was Janney's equal. Diana DeGarmo, the former "American Idol" runner-up, was solid in the Dolly Parton role.

There were distinct differences: the props used on Broadway were more realistic being the main one. The bookshelf in Franklin Hart's office, for example, was fake. On Broadway, at least if my memory is correct, there was a real shelf. Small differences, but differences all the same.

What this performance did for me was help me realize that just because I've seen a show on Broadway or even in Memphis before that the latest offering features different cast members and more than likely a different experience.

I've unfortunately had a negative second experience. Five years ago in London we saw "Chicago" and it was brilliant. It helped that I was a little star struck watching Brooke Shields. I don't recall who played the Mama character but she was awesome.

Fast forward to this past summer with "Chicago" at The Orpheum. I was a bit bored this time around. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the "Chicago" story doesn't interest me nearly as much as "9 to 5." I mean, "9 to 5" would be hysterical I'd have to think even with a poor cast.

But I just didn't get into "Chicago" this time around. And wasn't feeling Mama at all.

Lesson in all this? I won't turn down an opportunity to see a show I've already seen. And you should probably catch "9 to 5" at The Orpheum this weekend.

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