Behind the scenes of "9 to 5"


I have had the honor to be part of the cast and crew in Jackson County Community Theatre’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical” at The Pines Evergreen Room in Seymour.

I wanted to share some of my experience for those who might be interested in participating in the theater or just curious what happens behind the scenes.

The last time I was in a musical was when I was a junior at Linton-Stockton High School in a production of “The Music Man.” I have fond memories from that production and still remember the one line I had as one of the angry townspeople, “Money back? I want his hide!”

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When I heard the local theater was going to be presenting “9 to 5,” I knew I at least wanted to audition. The main reason was because it sounded like fun and I enjoyed the movie so much, which starred Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, back in 1980.

I am a customer service rep and a reporter for The Tribune, but when it comes to being onstage, I’m not very experienced. Auditioning at Royal Off-the-Square Theatre in Brownstown in November, I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but everyone there was very nice and made me feel at ease.

I was relieved I knew at least one person there, Stephanie Strothmann of the Jackson County United Way. We were all asked to sing a song of our own choosing, perform a brief comedic monologue and read some lines from the script.

Everyone who tried out ended up being cast in the musical, and JCCT is always looking for new talent.

Rehearsals began early in December after we were given permission to use the vacant second floor of a building in downtown Seymour.

We could not get access to the dinner theater location until tech week about five days before opening night.

We affectionately referred to our interim rehearsal space as “the locker” because it was cold upstairs, but we made the most of it. Preparing for a musical during the winter is tough because over the past two months, many of the cast members have suffered through bouts of colds, flu, bronchitis, strep and more.

We have overcome it because as they say in show business, “the show must go on.”

When I say I was part of the cast and crew, I do mean both. Without an actual crew for moving props and making scene changes, it was up to the cast to do this ourselves, so this called for true teamwork.

It really does take a village, and I can’t possibly name everyone who participated in “9 to 5” in some capacity because so many were involved. Whether onstage or behind the scenes, each person had an important role.

In December, we started learning the songs and some staging. Then after the holidays, we really got down to business. Rehearsals were usually three nights a week because there is a lot involved with putting on a production of this magnitude.

That’s when I discovered singing and dancing at the same time can be kind of tricky. You have to remember the words to the song while trying to remember the correct dance steps simultaneously. We had some challenging but fun choreography with which to work.

After weeks of rehearsals, we moved into The Pines Evergreen Room on Feb. 10, and this is where I saw the real behind the scenes of a dinner theater. The stage had to be built upon and extended. There were reversible flats to be painted, props to be found, stage lights to be hung and sound equipment to be hooked up and tested. Still, things can go awry, but hopefully, there’s a Plan B in place and you just keep going.

After we got moved into The Pines Evergreen Room, we had to get used to the stage, the spacing, the lights and don’t forget about the costume changes. I had four different outfits, which was less than the principal actors, and we all got very familiar with Goodwill looking for styles from the 1970s.

All four of the dinner theater shows were sold out well before opening night, and the show opened to rave reviews. The matinee had a much larger attendance than normal, too.

I was so impressed working with our director, Stacey Williams, along with the assistant director, Paul Keller, who had the job of working with us on staging, lines and props. They were very open to hearing our ideas.

Then there was the production manager, Kate Stahl, and the costuming crew who helped us with our wardrobe when there were things we couldn’t find at Goodwill.

Georgiann Coons and the band were a joy to work with, as well, and stage manager Kathy Nelson and the entire production and sound crew all worked really hard to make the show a success.

Everyone involved in the musical made sacrifices and gave up family time in order to concentrate on making the production a success; however, the rehearsals and performances will soon be over, and we will go back to our normal lives.

Hearing the applause and laughter from the audience during our performances has left me with a good feeling knowing that I was a part of bringing a smile to so many faces. After spending so much time with the wonderful cast and crew, I know I will miss them all, but I also now have a “theater family,” and the friendships will be ongoing.

After this experience, I have a whole new appreciation and respect for the theater now that I’ve seen firsthand the hard work and commitment that is required. I understand now why my son has an interest in the arts, and he was performing with the Epilogue Players in Indianapolis in a play on the same nights as me.

If anyone is interested in being involved in the theater, give it a try. Oftentimes, we see the same local talent onstage, which is great, but it’s always nice to see new faces. If a news reporter can do it, chances are you can, too.

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