Laurier Musical Theatre – The comeback kids

Laurier Musical Theatre returns with their production of 9 to 5 after a disappointing cancellation last season

Laurier Musical Theatre returns with their production of 9 to 5 after a disappointing cancellation last season | Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

2016 — a year of retribution for Laurier Musical Theatre.

Just last year, the club had to cancel their production of Tommy after a shipping mishap with their script provider. Despite all the trouble, Laurier Musical Theatre returns in full force with their production of 9 to 5, set to debut at the Theatre Auditorium at Wilfrid Laurier University on January 21.

LMT was lucky to have Hayley McLennan there to pick up the pieces. McLennan, now in her fourth year at Laurier, has been involved with Laurier Musical Theatre since her first year and held presidency of the club during last year’s cancellation. She has returned in 2016 as the producer of 9 to 5 — a vital role that has her overseeing all aspects of production.

9 to 5, based on the film of the same name, follows the story of three female secretaries who are fed up with their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss. After dwelling on their revenge fantasies, the women hatch a plan to dethrone the tyrant. The play features scenes of outlandish fantasies, hilarious banter and music by Dolly Parton.

McLennan chose the play because it would allow the strong female talent of Laurier Musical Theatre to “truly shine,” while still allowing male cast members to take on substantial roles.

“Being in theatre since I was 10, I know that a lot of shows are written with a heavy dependency on male characters … the truth of the fact is there aren’t as many men as there are women interested in doing theatre,” said McLennan. “We weren’t stressed about having to change the gender of a character, or put somebody in a vocal range they’re not comfortable with.”

McLennan’s goal with this musical, and overall with musical theatre, is to find different ways to convey every day societal issues through a traditional medium — something some may consider outdated.

“It’s a different way to tell a story, every single story has a great medium,” said McLennan.

“Changing mediums changes the story … 9 to 5 is based on a movie, but with theatre you’re able to play up the kitschy side of it, and have those tongue-in-cheek moments where you’re breaking that fourth wall.”

And if that’s still not enough to get students out to support the arts at Laurier, 9 to 5 features a four-part, drug-fuelled fantasy dance sequence that ensues after the three protagonists smoke a joint together. That’s right everybody, marijuana.

But boiling 9 to 5 down to a weed gag and a few catchy tunes would do it a disservice.

The musical is very much about female empowerment, said McLennan. Feminism may feel like the hot button topic of the millennium, but 9 to 5 affirms women have been striving for equality through mainstream mediums for decades.

McLennan said modern feminism was a top consideration while determining the direction of their production. She and other contributors feared the contents of the musical would be misconstrued as “man-hating,” and thus made an effort to present the female characters’ actions as gender equalizing.

“[Perceptions of ‘man-hating’] was the one thing I wanted to avoid because that is not my personal philosophy and that is not what I wanted this show to be,” said McLennan. “It’s like a fun, little feminist jaunt.”

Laurier Musical Theatre doesn’t merely fill a niche, but rather stands as a necessity. McLennan explained that while departments like the music faculty at Laurier provide excellent support for those studying music, students in other disciplines are still hungry for a creative outlet. It is up to clubs and associations to provide an outlet — but above all else — a quality experience.

“There are theatre kids hiding around every corner and we just want to find each other so it’s not weird when we burst out into Les Mis[érables],” said McLennan.

“We just need the opportunity.”

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