Union Tribune Preview: SDMT works up to ‘9 to 5’ by James Hebert

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Joy Yandell knows all about the 9-to-5 grind. Or, in her case, more like 6 to 2 (a.m.), as this working mom juggles parenting and acting and her non-theater professional life.

“It’s a tornado of fun,” she says, “and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Which is part of why Yandell appreciates the grit and wit of the women in “9 to 5: The Musical,” who have to fight for the right to go after what they want.

Yandell, a wide-ranging San Diego actor who’s had prime roles in shows from Cygnet Theatre’s bracing “Cabaret” to Lamb’s Players’ zippy “miXtape,” is playing Violet Newstead in San Diego Musical Theatre’s staging of the movie-based “9 to 5.”

Her character, a widowed office manager with four kids, is used to having to be the adult in the room.

“She’s always, ‘What do I need to do, what do I need to take care of?’” as Yandell puts it. “It’s all business. But she knows she could change this company. She knows she’s able to be so much more than what she’s allowed to become.”

It takes a pair of sympathetic office mates, though, to spur her finally to act.

“And that’s what we need in life sometimes,” says Yandell. “That person who’s saying, ‘I’m going to push you over the edge a little bit, and get you out of your comfort zone.’”

“9 to 5,” set in 1979, was written by Patricia Resnick and features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, who starred in the original 1980 movie.

The show revolves around the office misadventures of Violet; the boss’ mistreated secretary, Doralee (played at SDMT by the San Diego and Broadway actress Karyn Overstreet); and workplace newcomer Judy (Allison Spratt Pearce, another San Diego-based stage star with Broadway credits).

Those three, fed up with the cruel and chauvinistic behavior of their boss, Franklin (David Humphrey), embark on a campaign to demand fairness and respect.

All three find new purpose “not by tearing each other down,” says Yandell, “but by their strength and their determination and valuing each other and encouraging each other. That’s how they change the dynamic of the office.”

While Yandell’s own work history has included numerous roles in the entertainment business (she also was the understudy for the female cast members in the original 2004 La Jolla Playhouse production of “Jersey Boys”), her main avocation and passion outside theater now is her work as a massage therapist for women going through treatment.

“My focus is family and working with the women on their healing,” she says. “That’s where my heart is.”

And with women’s voices being raised lately in an unprecedented way on the political stage, “it’s the perfect time for this show, actually,” she says. “I think it’ll be very cathartic for some people.

“And It’s a great escape — a great way to go and laugh.”

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