The Walnut Street Theatre opens its 206th season with 9 To 5: The Musical, starting with previews Sept. 2 and running through Oct. 19.
Featuring music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, the Oscar, Tony Award and Grammy-nominated songs include her original hit title song, along with many others.
The plot is based on three female co-workers who, pushed to the boiling point in the workplace, plan to get even with Franklin Hart Jr., their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss. They conspire to take control of the company and learn there’s nothing they can’t do even in a man’s world.
Taking the role of Hart is Canadian-born Paul Schoeffler. A veteran of Broadway and WST productions, Schoeffler didn’t discover his talent for acting until he moved to the States when he was 19 and enrolled at Berkeley.
“Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to become a writer,” he said. “But before that, I attended a two-year college that had an amazing theater department. I got involved and fell in love with it.”
Still, Schoeffler felt committed to complete his time at Berkeley and get his degree as a writer.
“But then I was off to Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh to train as an actor, something I felt I just had to do because I couldn’t get the theater out of my mind.”
Then it was off to New York and a series of unfulfilling jobs just to make ends meet until the acting jobs started coming his way. And come his way they did, on Broadway and at the Walnut. On Broadway, Schoeffler has been seen in productions Sweet Charity, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, and Rock of Ages, in which he still appears.
At the Walnut, Schoeffler has been asked back to perform in such plays as Man of La Mancha, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Les Miz and many others.
“And now I’m back again, which to me is the highest compliment an actor can receive. It proves how much the people you have worked with before approve of your performances.”
And although 9 To 5 is a lot of fun, Schoeffler, 63, said it has its challenges.
“It’s what we call high comedy, meaning to pull it off, everything has to be done precisely and clearly, with as little ambiguity as possible. You create something collectively and know when it works and when it doesn’t work. There’s an energy in the room, and the audience lets you know when it does work.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-574-3550.