About 9 to 5 The Musical

Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton

Book by Patricia Resnick

Based on the 20th Century Fox Picture 9 to 5 (1980)

Originally produced on Broadway by Robert Greenblatt, April 2009

Orchestrator: Bruce Coughlin

Arrangements and Additional Orchestrations: Stephen Oremus & Alex Lacamoire




Cleveland, OH


February 29 - March 2 & March 7 - 8 @ 8pm. March 9 @ 2pm. The Forum Theater in the Radio and Television Building, 35 South College Street, Athens OH 45701

Talk-back after the shows on Saturday 3/2 & Thursday 3/7.


9 TO 5 The Musical is the story of three working women getting revenge on their sexist and egotistical boss. Based on the 1980 film and the real-life women of the 9 to 5 movement, over 40 years later, this sassy, fun, and fast-moving show with Dolly Parton music provokes us to examine how much progress we’ve actually accomplished in equal rights for women, and all folx.


1979 gave us The Walkman and Dustbuster, the Happy Meal, and the first woman Prime Minister. And much like today, it was a time of political unrest here and abroad with abundant socioeconomic milestones, good and bad. It was during this time one of our country’s most influential actors and activists, Jane Fonda, heard about an organization created to improve and protect the conditions of working women in the United States. She met with these secretaries in Ohio and the film we know and love was born.

When I was interviewing to guide this production, the question that was asked was "Why 9 to 5?" And my response was “Why NOT 9 to 5?”. These real life women, who had had enough of the abuse, the harassment, and the low pay, paved the way for us to not only have seats at the table, but to make space for the next generations. Because of their voices, I am able to have a voice as a woman director and choreographer, and it is strong, confident, and loud. It’s been 45 years and we are still fighting for human equality, for peace, for inclusion. But I do feel that because of these women and the work they did, our voices are heard and can make so much more noise. And this is why I wanted to share this story with these young artists. These future change makers.

There is a lyric in this show “If you don’t take the reins it’s gonna stay the same. Nothing’s gonna change if you don’t change it.” This is the heart of why we are here, using theater to tell a story with song, dance and comedy. Comedy that empowers these women to stand up for themselves and what is right and keeps them from being victims in their stories. It is our responsibility to encourage the future generations to feel empowered to make the change they want to see.

If you leave our space today feeling inspired, we’ve done our job. If you leave having tears of joy and pride, we’ve done our job. And if you leave humming more then just the theme song, the great Dolly Parton has done what she does best, used music to open our hearts and minds and put a little dance in our step.

Shanna VanDerwerker, Director


“But you got dreams he’ll never take away”

Everyone knows Dolly Parton’s bass line and nail-clacking in her 1980s hit song 9 to 5. The opening number of the musical is catchy and upbeat but taking a moment to listen to the lyrics reveals the real history that inspired the musical.

“What a way to make a livin’”

In the 60s, the economy changed. Women left the kitchen and entered the workforce. Not as doctors, lawyers, or professors (though a few did work in those positions). Instead, many entered secretary and office worker positions. They typed, filed, copied, and crunched numbers in rows and rows of underpaid women. Despite having college degrees, they were sentenced to professional lives of inequality and mistreatment simply because of their gender. They experienced low pay, little respect, no training, no written job descriptions, few benefits, no career advancement, and frequent sexual harassment. Eventually, they got fed up and started to speak out.

“There’s a better life. And you dream about it, don’t you?”

Founded in 1972, the 9 to 5 social movement strived to make office work more equitable for everyone. They quickly experienced major wins. It forced bosses to abide by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (guaranteeing equal wages for the same job regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or sexuality), exposed wage fixing in Boston (Bosses got together and all agreed to keep wages low) and taught the world about sexual harassment (the term wasn’t even invented until the 70s). 9 to 5 also gave women an opportunity to lead in the public sphere and nurture their skills, such as public speaking and event organization. They wrote and made speeches, organized events, and made their voices heard.  

“It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it”

The musical you’ll see is directly connected to this significant movement in our history. Actor and Activist Jane Fonda, who was close friends with some of the organizers, visited 9 to 5 Cleveland to listen to these women’s stories and make them into a movie to tell the nation. She learned about the passions and frustrations that drove their activism, even asking at one point if any went so far as to fantasize about killing their bosses. Every hand went up. They spilled their ridiculous, violent fantasies (no more ridiculous than the mistreatment they experienced) and a movie was created where the oppressor becomes the one tied down…or up.

Adapted from Fonda’s film in 2009 by Patrica Resnick, 9 to 5: The Musical tells a story that was meant to be silent. Fortunately, the women of the 9 to 5 movement dared to speak up and a story was told that used comedy to punch up at the men who abused them. That fact they can sing like nothing else helps too.

Sarah Dykhuizen, Dramaturg


The link below shows what the amazing Dolly Parton has done for the state of Ohio and our local community: “Every child from birth to age five in Athens County can receive a new book mailed to them each month for free.”



We, The School Of Theater and Tantrum Theater, acknowledge that, from the time of Ohio University’s founding in 1804, it has occupied the traditional homelands of the Shawnee people, as well as the Wahzhazhe (who are also known as the Osage), who lived in Southeast Ohio before them. As the first federally legislated public university in the United States of America, Ohio University was an integral part of the U.S.’s westward expansion and empire building. 

Tantrum Theater

Welcome to Tantrum Theater’s production of 9 to 5 The Musical, an adaptation of the 1980 hit film starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton! 

Hitting Broadway in April 2009, 9 to 5 The Musical revolves around themes of friendship, workplace inequities, and revenge. This comedy sharply encapsulates the challenges working women grappled with during the 1970s, a time aptly referred to as the "rolodex era". Strikingly, many of the challenges faced by our lovable leading trio remain relevant today. The title itself pays homage to the women’s labor organization, “9to5” established in 1973, which worked to address issues such as automation, pay disparities, workplace harassment, and discrimination. Notably, a documentary film titled 9 to 5: The Story of a Movement premiered in 2020, shedding light on the enduring impact of the “9to5” organization.  

Tantrum invites you to enjoy the timeless humor and continued relevance of 9 to 5 The Musical and is proud to share this story that not only pays homage to the past but also delights in the enduring resonance of this tale of comedic feminist revenge. 

We are thrilled to announce our upcoming 2024-2025 season. In the Fall, Tantrum presents Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, reimagined by Kate Hamill. This adaptation is bold, surprising, and playful, giving this timeless story new life. In the Spring, The Prom takes our stage! The Prom is the winner of the Drama Desk Award for “Best Musical” and captures the humor and heart of a classical musical comedy with a resounding message of inclusion. We hope to see you next season! 

Continuing Tantrum educational offerings include bringing Shakespeare into Athens-area schools, Athens Middle School Drama Club, the Andrew Jackson Davidson Club, Better Bystander Training, and Intimacy Coordination Training with Ohio University students. Watch for summer 2024 theater camp opportunities, which will be available at www.ohio.edu/fine-arts/tantrum-theater/education.

Thank you for joining us and for your continued support! 

Ellie Clark, Artistic Director  |   Roberto DiDonato, Producing Director



Tantrum Theater is proud to have the support from the following sponsors, without whose support, this performance would not have been possible: The National Endowment for the Arts , The Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Humanities, College of Fine Arts Community Fund




Tantrum Theater 

19 South College Street

1 Ohio University

Athens, Ohio  45701


Email: [email protected]


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