MHS’ theater program gets to work to present ‘9 to 5’

On March 1, MHS will debut “9 to 5: The Musical.”

Moorestown High School will perform “9 to 5” as their spring musical. The cast rehearsed on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the auditorium of Moorestown High School in preparation for their upcoming debut on Friday, March 1.

To paraphrase Dolly Parton, the members of Moorestown High School’s musical have certainly poured themselves “a cup of ambition” with their spring show “9 to 5: The Musical.” On March 1, they will don their best shoulderpads and get to work.

Set in the late 1970s, the musical follows three female coworkers as they plot a way to get even with their sexist boss. The production features music and lyrics by Parton, who starred in the 1980 theatrical release.

Director and choreographer Erica Harr said they chose “9 to 5” because it’s a female powerhouse show. She said the story follows three women who are determined to change their work environment by taking a stand for equal pay and respect in the workplace. Harr said now, more than ever, this is an important story to tell.

“It’s great to see women in our cast taking on that challenge and making that statement,” Harr said.

Compared to last year’s spring musical, “Kiss Me, Kate,” this year’s piece features more contemporary music, so the team has had no trouble getting the students excited about the music.

Sam Elder, who plays Franklin Hart Jr., performs a solo number surrounded by his ensemble cast mates.

Skylar Raye Noyes, who plays Judy Bernly (one of the show’s three female leads), said she was thrilled to learn they’d be performing “9 to 5” given the show has always been a personal favorite. She said Parton’s upbeat music makes for a fun array of pop/Broadway music to perform.

Noyes said the entire cast has been working hard to tell this story. For her, the most difficult part of preparing for opening night has been maintaining her energy throughout the production. Her character sings one of the big numbers at the end of the show, so she’s been working on keeping her stamina up until the very end.

For Tierney Lee Howard, who plays Doralee Rhodes, the most difficult part of the musical has been perfecting her Southern accent as she tackles the role played by Parton in the movie. She said she’s been listening to country music to nail the right sound.

Tierney Lee Howard (center in red) stars as Doralee Rhodes, one of the musical’s three female leads. Howard rehearses on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Lee Howard said she encourages people to attend not only because the cast has been putting in the hard work but because the story has such positive messages. She said one song in particular is about being positive and changing your attitude, and the message has particularly resonated with her.

“We’re at an age now where things are so harsh; sometimes you need to take a step back and change your attitude and be more positive, so I love singing that song and delivering that message to everyone.”

For Carlie MacMillan, who plays the third female lead, Violet Newstead, she’s looking forward to everyone seeing the opening number and the musical’s namesake “9 to 5.” She said she anticipates the audience will be jamming out in their seats.

MacMillan said the show has been a memorable one to work on not only because it’s her senior performance but because “9 to 5” has something different going for it.

“The messages behind it and the three girls as leads is really special,” MacMillan said.

Harr said to see young students work hard and tell a good story is reason enough to come out, but she hopes attendees appreciate the timeliness of the piece as well.

“It still resonates,” Harr said. “It’s still issues we’re talking about today.”

“9 to 5” will premiere on Friday, March 1 in the auditorium of Moorestown High School at 7 p.m. The show will also take place on March 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, visit