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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

Business Spectacle: Lilys Hair Studio (video)
Business Spectacle: Lily's Hair Studio (video)
October 26, 2023

From southern roots, “9 to 5” resurfaces workplace equality with 70s flair

One by one, alarm clocks blare throughout the auditorium, capturing the attention of the audience and transporting them to a familiar occurrence for the average working adult. Dolly Parton, one of the most beloved voices in America, transports viewers to 1979. 

The Cowboy Theatre Company’s production of “9 to 5” is brought to life on Jan. 20-21 and this weekend.

The musical explores the unexpected friendship between three women navigating a sexist workplace environment. When deciding the play, directors Lisa Stucker and Grace Hellyer wanted a story that would allow their students to grow.

“We look at the makeup of the kids we have and their capabilities and then figure out which show fits a message we want to tell, which is within our capabilities but also enough of a challenge for our actors and technicians,” Stucker said.

After establishing the late 70s workplace atmosphere, we are introduced to Violet Newstead (New Tech High @ Coppell senior Lily Hess), Doralee Rhodes (senior Olivia Willey) and Judy Bernly (New Tech High @ Coppell junior Jessica Bunting). Violet, one of the most efficient members of staff, takes newcomer Judy under her wing. As they delve into the inner workings of the office, Franklin Hart Jr. (junior J McGill) emerges as their oppressive and egotistical boss.

To develop the themes of revenge, sisterhood and perseverance all in one showing, directors Hellyer and Stucker implemented one central idea for technicians and actors.

Coppell High School senior Olivia Willey as Doralee Rhodes performs “Shine like the Sun” in the CHS Auditorium on Jan. 19. The Cowboy Theatre Company’s spring musical, “9 to 5” is showing through Sunday. (Wendy Le)

“We always start with a concept,” Stucker said. “We talked about the way the workplace moves like a current underwater and how people interact like an ecosystem. What that does to people and how the different environments affect them. If enough of them get together they can change the toxic environment. And obviously female empowerment.”

To convey the contrast and dynamic shifts between characters, technicians implement color themes for particular scenes. 

“The costume department went with duller colors for men and bright colors for women,” senior lighting designer Nandini Pajankar said. “Lighting-wise, whenever we were in Hart’s office I used a darker, toned down blue and used brighter blues in act two, like moving from the bottom of the ocean to the top.” 

Although the musical takes place in the 70s, topics discussed in the play were still relevant to society today.

“It’s important that we’re telling stories that matter today just as much as they did when the play first came out,” Stucker said.

With an expansive cast, “9 to 5” successfully captured the journey of collective workplace solidarity and challenges faced by women in a corporate environment. 

“Each ensemble member and each character has such a big role to play in the show and whenever everybody’s on stage together,” Bunting said. “I think this is where the audience can enjoy it with us the most. They know we’re genuinely happy.”

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About the Contributors
Minori Kunte
Minori Kunte, Staff Cartoonist
Minori Kunte is a junior and the staff cartoonist for The Sidekick. She spends her time singing for the Madrigals and A Capella. In her free time outside of school, she enjoys painting scenic locations she’s spotted and making vlogs of her vacations for herself and her family to watch. Her favorite movie of all time is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She enjoys watching Anne With An E and The 100, while snacking on Brookside Acai Dark Chocolate and Skinny Pop. She feels inspired when looking at art made by Anna-Laura Sullivan and Bob Ross. You can contact her at [email protected]
Wendy Le
Wendy Le, Podcast Producer
Wendy Le is a junior and the podcast producer of The Sidekick. Through The Sidekick, she found her passion in photography and podcasting. In her free time, she enjoys scrolling through Pinterest, capturing mundane moments on camera and spending time with her friends and family.  When feeling burnt out, Le recharges her social battery by sitting in her bed and relaxing throughout the day. Listening to Lana Del Rey, specifically her Lust for Life album, helps bring a sense of peacefulness to her day. You can contact her at [email protected].

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