9 to 5: A musical preview

Theater director Shana Prentiss discussed the upcoming STA musical: 9 to 5. The musical will be at STA Nov. 8-11.


Juniors Kari Flynn, left, and Nicole Ficklin practice lines with each other before auditioning Aug. 29. Both Flynn and Ficklin were in last year’s musical. photo by Madeline Loehr

by Ella Kugler and Madeline Loehr

story by Ella Kugler

Q: So what’s this play about?

A: This play, 9 to 5, is based – I love this story so much – is based on a movie that was made in the 80s called 9 to 5. It starred Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda. They are – it’s a story of three women that work in the same office and it’s about sexual harassment, sexual discrimination… lots of female issues in the workplace and just in general. So, it’s kind of a revenge fantasy against this horrible boss that they have. So there’s this scene where they’re all planning how they would kill him if they could, and then some of those things kind of start to happen in real life. It’s very, very funny, it’s hilarious, but it also has a very powerful message about how women have been treated in our history and how if we work hard and keep at it, maybe something will change.

Q: Is it just Rockhurst boys that come for the plays?

A: No, not always, it just kind of depends on the year, but we open it to all area high school boys. It often a lot of word mouth though, so it’s usually boys that STA girls know that will come in, but we’ve had kids from Blue Valley. We had a kid as far away as Lawrence, who drove in every day for our show. We have one student this year who’s a Lincoln Prep student who’s auditioning, but the majority of them come from Rockhurst.

Q: Do you work on the plays with other teachers?

A: For the musical, yes, it’s a team for the musical. We have Mr. Perry who’s the music director, Mr. Pherigo is our accompanist and then Ms. Skowronek is our choreographer and we work together on it.

Q: When’s the play?

A: Nov. 8-11

Q: How many people are in the play?

A: Probably around 30, I’m hoping, because we’ll have chorus… people who are singing and dancing in the background. So, yeah, it’ll probably be around 30, but it’s a little hard to know at this point.

Q: So… just, how is the process – because I’ve heard it’s really stressful for some people auditioning…

A: For auditioning? Yeah, it’s hard because, especially at a school like St. Teresa’s because there are so many talented girls and we had just under 60 people yesterday audition for, possibly 30 parts… and pretty much all of them were great. So, that’s what’s challenging…  as directors, we can be incredibly picky about what we want. You know, when you come into some situations, you’ll say, “Oh, I love this, but I don’t know if I have the kid, like we have five of that kid that could fit that. So we could be super, super picky about kind of what is exactly what we want because most likely we have the kid that could do it. So, it is stressful for the kids, but we try to make it as low stress as possible for the kids. I mean, any time you’re auditioning and you’re putting yourself out there, it’s scary and it is intimidating. We try to make it fun, we try to not – like we didn’t make anyone stand up and sing in front of all 60 people yesterday. We take them in small groups, especially with the singing, that seems to be the part that’s scariest for people. So, yeah, they don’t have to all sing in front of everyone. They usually come into the music room in groups of five, so they’re usually singing with four or five other people that will be singing as well. I remember auditioning and I was terrified, every time I auditioned and it never got easier because you’re putting yourself out there and you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

Q: Are there requirements, like experience, or?

A: No, not at all. Auditions are open to all STA students, whether they’ve had experience or not. We try not to bring seniority into it, so the freshmen have just as much a chance as the seniors. We try to look at each kid individually, regardless of how old they are or how much experience they have. So sometimes it’s a senior and sometimes it’s not.

Q: So, is the play mostly female, then?

A: It’s very female heavy. We really only need – there’s like four major male roles – and then there’s the male chorus, so we definitely we have a lot more females than males.

Q: Do you have a preference for plays?

A: Yeah, you know, sometimes I have shows in mind, but I can’t do them, but it depends on the year. Then other times it’s like, oh I don’t have a clue, so I just have to read a bunch and figure it out. Actually, funny story about this show, it was the theater teacher at Rockhurst. I had sent her a show last year, Big Fish, she had never heard of it, but I read it and it was really good, except it was very male-heavy and I was like, “You should absolutely do this show” and then this year when I had no idea what to do, she was like, “What about 9 to 5?” and I was like, that’s genius! So she picked our show for us this year, we have a good relationship that way, but yeah it’s pretty funny, but sometimes it just takes a little spark of someone saying, “Hey, have you looked at this?” and yeah.