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Stage Notes: James Joyce and Dolly Parton Influence Upcoming Productions


“I want people to come and laugh and feel the love of female friendships and the empowerment that women discover, this experience of what can happen if we work together,” says Rachel Peake.

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The musical 9 to 5, which premieres at La Citadelle on April 30, is a comedy adventure of epic proportions.

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Based on the 1980 film of the same name with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, the musical features a botched poisoning and other forms of boss torture orchestrated by a tight-knit group of women bent on revenge on the sexist bigot who employs them.

But despite its remarkable hilarity, the film and the musical – which premiered on Broadway in 2009 and revived in London’s West End in 2019 – are rooted in the issue of injustice in the workplace.

Indeed, when Jane Fonda created the film in which she starred with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, she wanted the crazy comedy to highlight the struggles women faced in the workplace in the 1970s.

“Fonda said it had to be funny and a little outrageous and that’s what gets people from all walks of life to engage in this conversation,” says Rachel Peake, who runs the Citadel show.

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The plot sees Judy (played by Edmonton singer Patricia Zentilli) conspiring with Violet (Sharon Crandall from Vancouver) and Dora-Lee (Julia McLellan from Toronto) to occupy their evil boss while they orchestrate the renovation of a office.

Edmonton talent includes Kristin Johnston as Direct Administrative Assistant, Roz, Stephanie Wolfe as Margaret the Lush Office, and Andrew Macdonald-Smith as Joe the Nice Office Guy. Also watch for Edmonton’s Cheryl Jameson and Juliana Duran Hogan in the multi-talented cast.

Peake wants audiences to be immersed in the joy of the show.

“I want people to come and laugh and feel the love of female friendships and the empowerment that women discover, this experience of what can happen if we work together,” she says.

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Peake notes that even though the workplace has changed a lot since the 1970s, gender gaps — including sexual harassment — still exist.

“Women still earn 89 cents on the dollar (compared to men) and globally (only) one in 17 CEOs is a woman. The me too movement has brought many behaviors to light and changed what is acceptable, but it has not eradicated it.

Peake’s 9 to 5 takes place on the Maclab Stage (9828 101 A Ave.) until May 29. Visit citadeltheatre.com for more details.

RISER returns to celebrate new work

RISER Edmonton presents the multidisciplinary show, I Don’t Even Miss You, from April 28 to May 4 at CO*LAB (9641 102A Ave.) The 80-minute one-act tells the story of Basil, a non-binary computer programmer who wakes up one morning to find they are alone. They eventually build a digital assistant, Orchid, to keep them company. Live music, dance and video combine to explore love, legacy and climate change. Tickets are available at commongroundarts.ca.

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Irish love in another time at the Shadow Theater

Bloomsday, coming to the Shadow Theatre, is a remarkable piece of Irish humor and wisdom. Written by American playwright Steven Dietz and directed by John Hudson, the play is a time-traveling love story that sees a middle-aged couple come together to reflect on a time before when something like love broke out between them.

The title signals the Dublin setting, where a young Caithleen leads a walking tour that visits various locations depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Robbie joins his tour and they spend precious, youthful time unconsciously charting their course into the future.

Stage Notes: James Joyce and Dolly Parton Influence Upcoming Productions
Bloomsday, a play by Steven Dietz, runs at the Shadow Theater from April 27 to May 15. Photo by Marc J. Chalifoux /Provided

I interviewed Dietz – one of America’s most produced playwrights – from his home in Austin. He says he was inspired to write the 2015 award-winning play after a trip to Ireland with his family. His mother and his wife’s mother had died shortly before the trip.

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“We had both come out of a month of deep grief and I went to Dublin with a heavy heart and was more open to the impact of the land, the people, the music,” he recalled. “Travel is a tremendous disruption of thought.”

Dietz began to consider what is often said, that you can come back to a place, but never to a time.

“I was disturbed enough to say, ‘Sure, you can go back, to the theatre. That’s what theater does best,” he says.

The son of a train conductor, Dietz says time was like a growing member of his family. The sense of time, its slipperiness, its transience and its permanence fascinate him.

“Playing with time has become a fundamental narrative strategy for me, not to make the plays more interesting, but frankly to make the plays more useful. Robert can go back, but then he has to deal with what he finds .

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Bloomsday runs at the Varscona Theater (10329 83 Ave.) from April 27 through May 15. Tickets are available at shadowtheatre.org.

Two new faces

With the retirement of longtime festival director Shelley Switzer, two new faces have arrived at the Edmonton International Festival of Street Artists. Marian Brant, formerly the festival’s director of operations and production, is now its general manager. Paul Bezaire is the 2022 festival director. The festival returns to Winston Churchill Square, in conjunction with The Works Art & Design Festival, July 8-17. edmontonstreetfest.com

yegarts@postmedia.com

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