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Students brave spandex for first musical

by Lenise Willis

 lenise@yesweekly.com

There have been some pretty bold trends in fashion industry: bell bottoms, flower-power prints, platform shoes and even saggy jeans. But for the next couple of weeks a few courageous actors at Guilford Technical Community College will brave the boldest fashion move of all: spandex and shoulder pads.

Beginning this weekend, GTCC’s Jamestown campus will present its first musical, 9 to 5: The Musical, a comedic flashback to office life in 1979. Based on the 1980 hit movie of the same name, 9 to 5 the play is a hilarious story of female friendship and revenge.

“It has fit the bill perfectly,” said June Guralnick, director of GTCC’s theater program, about the play’s teaching potential. “What an amazing experience we’ve had watching the students, some who have never performed in a musical before, learn about and embrace the art of musical theater.

“This is what GTCC’s Theatre Program is all about: involving students in a broad range of theatrical experiences.”

“They’ve had a lot of fun with it,” added Guralnick about the 14 actors in the performance. “They didn’t know a lot about that age, so it has been exciting.”

Guralnick said she and the musical’s director, former GTCC graduate Giuseppe Ritorto, chose the musical because it had great roles for young people and a downhome, relatable story.

“It’s funny, fun, but still has a great message,” Guralnick said. “It’s about the glass ceiling and women trying to advance their careers, but it’s funny. The play doesn’t beat you over the head [with the message].”

Guralnicks adds that the play isn’t just for female audiences, as it has something that everyone can relate to, and the comedy will be enjoyable for everyone — except for children as the play is recommended for adults only.

To send the audience back through time, Guralnick says the set has “secret things.” “We’ve got lots of surprises,” she said, “but you’ll have to come to see what they are. We don’t want to ruin any of them.”

“[The set] is clever; it works well,” she added.

As for the musical score, it’s an original written by Dolly Parton. Songs are wide-ranging in style, from country to Broadway-type show tunes, as well as rock and blues numbers.

Guralnick says the most identifiable song from the show is “9 to 5,” which was originally written for the film.

All of the other songs were developed solely for the musical, so audiences won’t be hearing any of the old radio hits. Of course, the new songs are just as much fun and still capture the era’s trends.

“It all works well together because the music complements the dramatic structure of the show,” she said.

Beyond being a fun reminiscence for the audience and a great learning opportunity for students, Guralnick describes 9 to 5 as a “homecoming,” as several GTCC theater graduates have returned to work on the musical, including its choreographer, Tiffany Hogan.

“We’ve had an amazing amount of support from the community and the college, including former theater program graduates who have gone on to successful theater careers and have come back to help,” Guralnick said.

“Our cast, orchestra and production crew are a wonderful mix of students, community members, and professionals — creating a fabulous musical theater-training experience for our students and great entertainment for the public.”

There also will be a pre-show dinner offered by GTCC’s Culinary Arts Program at 7 p.m. Thursday and April 11 at the Joseph S. Koury Hospitality Careers Center (first floor dining room). Meal reservations can be made at culinary.gtcc.edu.

WANNA go?

9 to 5: The Musical performs Thursday through Saturday and April 11–13 at the Joseph S. Koury Hospitality Careers Center on the Jamestown GTCC campus, located at 601 High Point Road. Performances are at 8 p.m. with additional matinee performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and April 13. Tickets are $15. For tickets, visit the High Point Theatre box office, located at 220 E. Commerce Ave., call 336.887.3001, or visit highpointtheatre.com.

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