First City Players is set to open its production of the musical play “9 to 5” on Friday, offering a lively interpretation of the 1980 film of the same name, featuring lyrics and music created by Dolly Parton.
In a phone call Wednesday, FCP Executive Artistic Director Elizabeth Nelson, and director of “9 to 5,” described the play’s plot.
“It’s a corporate office with a misogynistic boss,” she said. “These three women who — you get to know their individual storylines — but through a number of comedic errors, end up kidnapping their boss. But, in doing so, they end up making some really systemic changes to what is going on in the corporate atmosphere.
“Ultimately, it really is a story of empowerment, and especially of female empowerment, so it’s really kind of beautiful in that sense,” she added.
The three leading women characters — Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly and Doralee Rhodes — were created by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, who played those parts in the film, Nelson said.
In the FCP production, Newstead is played by Brittany Rickard, Bernly is played by Lori Orlowski and Doralee is played by Stasha McCormick. 
“They’re all really just dynamic and wonderful performers, good singers,” Nelson said. 
About 30 people comprise the full cast, she added.
That includes Wayne Phillips in the role of the boss, Franklin Hart Jr.
Jillian Pollock is the musical director for the FCP production, and Nelson said she could not “sing enough praises” for Pollock’s “prowess as a musical director.” 
She also praised musical accompanist Kim Henrickson for not only his talent, but also for his dedication in attending every rehearsal. 
“It’s been an incredible gift to have that kind of musical knowledge between the two of them,” she said. “It’s been really helpful.”
The play’s choreographer is Elizabeth Schultz, who is the former artistic director of Ketchikan Theatre Ballet. The assistant director of the play is Grace Louise, who was the leading player in the FCP production of “Pippin” last year, as well as the choreographer for the recent FCP play “Honk.”
On Wednesday evening, during a “sitzprobe” rehearsal in a Ketchikan High School band room where the actors practice with the musicians, a few cast members took the time to share their thoughts about participating in the play with the Daily News.
McCormick said that “so far the experience has been amazing. It’s fun to work with a lot of new people and old friends at the same time.”
She said that she has been in several FCP productions over the years, as well as productions in her former hometown. She also performed with Ketchikan Theatre Ballet when she was younger.
She added, “the show is a lot funnier than I thought it would be. The comedy of the whole show was surprising to me. I’ve been having a blast putting it together with everybody.”
She said of playing the role of Doralee, “there’s a lot of challenges to the role; those are some really big shoes to fill.”
McCormick added that she has long been “a huge Dolly Parton fan, so I’m trying to do her justice the best I can, but it’s also reminding me of my days — I lived in Tennessee for nine years — so it’s kind of fun to take some of the things that I learned there and apply it to the role.”
This will be McCormick’s first time on the Ketchikan High School stage in more than a decade, she said, adding that she is excited for that opportunity.
McCormick said that her character Doralee “is strong, determined and she loves her friends. She just wants to fit in and be like the rest of the girls.”
She encouraged community members to attend the play because of “the amazing amount of talent that is in Ketchikan, right here in your hometown — an amazing cast, an amazing show.”
The talent of the accompanying musicians also are worth attending to hear, McCormick said. 
“Out of any musical you could go to, ‘9 to 5’ is going to have some of the best music out there,” she noted.
Orlowski, also in attendance at the sitzprobe, said that she, too, has been in several FCP productions over the years. 
“I’ve been in just about every fall musical for the last 10 years or so, except for one of them, I think,” she said.
Orlowski said she’s been enjoying getting to know the characters in “9 to 5,” as she never had seen the film. 
“I really like this character a lot,” she said of playing Bernly. “She’s newly divorced, she doesn’t really know what to do with herself, she’s never had to live on her own before, and so she’s starting a new job, and she’s kind of starting over and so she doesn’t really know who she is at the beginning, and through the course of the story she kind of discovers that she doesn’t need anybody else. She is OK. She’s strong enough to be on her own.”
The main challenge Orlowski said she’s been working through is mastering the songs.
The solo songs especially “definitely challenge me,” she said.
Orlowski encouraged people to attend the play because “it’s so much fun. The music is really great, but it’s really familiar, but there’s a lot of depth to the story that you might not expect.”
She added of the storyline, that it is about “recognizing your own strength and your own power and it’s just — taking that on.”
Shay Ohmer, also in attendance at the sitzprobe Wednesday, said she is playing a candy striper in the production and also is a member of the ensemble cast.
The “9 to 5” play is Ohmer’s first time acting in a FCP production, she said. She was in the drama program at Kayhi, however, so did garner some experience before recently graduating. 
Ohmer said her favorite aspect of being a part of the cast has been having several of her friends participating with her.
She added that “it’s been fun being in a different environment with them.”
Moving from acting in productions meant for a younger audience to working in a play meant for an adult audience has been an interesting transition as well, Ohmer said.
“I’m not used to shows where they blurt out stuff about sex and about explicit topics as well,” she said. 
Ohmer concluded that people should come to see the play because “it’s a really fun experience and it’s great to see the people in the community of Ketchikan — see what they are able to do.”
Brittany Rickard, who portrays Violet Newstead in the production, spoke about the play in a phone call Thursday morning.
This is her first time participating in a FCP production, Rickard said, although she has extensive theater experience in her past.
“For years, I competed in a couple of different categories, and I did theater in high school and stuff,” she said, adding that she also has taught improvisational acting as well.
She said she had been out of theater for a long time, and was eager to have a chance to dive back into it again. 
“I enjoy the entire process of it,” Rickard said. “I think it’s multifaceted.”
She said that she is from a large city, where she had no sense of community.
“Any way that I get involved with the community here is really special to me,” she said. “That being said, this one just kind of doubles because I’m just so passionate about theater and I always have been, so it’s just such a big outlet for me creatively.”
 A challenge for her as a cast member of this play, she said, has been “re-finding my confidence in my ability to perform, because it’s been a hot minute, so I was like, ‘Can I jump back into this, is there going to be another learning curve?’ It was a little scary, a little intimidating at first, but I picked it up pretty quickly and all of the people in the cast, in the production company, are so welcoming, open-minded and non-judgemental, it made it really easy to re-integrate.”
Rickard said she encourages people to attend the show for several reasons.
“It’s a show that hits so many demographics,” she said. “There’s some shows that I feel like not everybody would enjoy, but this is going to be — it’s so funny.”
She added, “there’s love, there’s humor, there’s emotional themes. It’s just got a little bit of everything … it’s amazing. The whole thing’s amazing. It’s very entertaining, the music’s super upbeat, and it’s very funny. I think the humor is really going to be what people enjoy most, honestly.”
Rickard said she also would encourage those people who normally wouldn’t attend a musical to give “9 to 5” a try, because the songs are all fun and modern.
The FCP production of “9 to 5” is slated to open Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Kayhi auditorium. Following shows are planned to open at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays through Nov. 13.