SSU junior shines on stage in 9 to 5, The Musical

PORTSMOUTH – After a long hiatus without live theater throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Savannah Nell, a junior at Shawnee State University, was delighted to be back on stage. Performing in the SSU’s Musical Theater Department’s production of “9 to 5 The Musical”, she played the lead role of Doralee Rhodes.

“I didn’t expect to be chosen to play Doralee,” she said. “When the rehearsals started, I was almost in shock the first week. No matter the pressure, however, it was exhilarating to play a character so similar but so different from me in so many ways. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

In the series, Nell’s character is inspired by Dolly Parton and the popular movie “9 to 5”.

“There was a lot of pressure throughout the rehearsal process hearing how everyone would expect Dolly Parton from me,” she said. “I had never even seen ‘9 to 5’ before auditioning for the show. Then I watched the movie a million times and did my best to do Dolly justice!

Nell was initially drawn to SSU after recognizing talent in nationally ranked gaming programs. However, after arriving on campus, she quickly discovered that her heart belonged to the stage.

“I noticed they were auditioning for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ which is one of my favorite shows,” she said. “I signed up to audition, passed the audition, and got picked for a small role. Program Director John Huston spent the entire rehearsal process trying to get me to join the Musical Theater. “

During her time in the musical theater program, Nell appeared in four shows, including “9 to 5 the Musical”, “Camelot”, “Cowgirls the Musical” and “Little Shop of Horrors”. Being a part of the cast and crew for all of these shows, she values ​​her time the most in “Cowgirls the Musical”.

“It was my first big role on the show and I just had the time in my life to play a classic ’90s singer who loved girls and astrology,” she said. “I always said if there was one show that I would do eight times a week – like they do on Broadway – it would be Cowgirls.”

SSU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater provides students with creative opportunities as well as liberal arts training. The program is designed to develop the professional skills required of musical theater artists while providing a comprehensive academic foundation.

Outside of the academic program, all SSU students are invited to audition and participate in departmental shows. Their next show will be “Catastrophe! A disaster film from the 70s… Musical. Auditions for this show will take place on Wednesday, December 8 starting at 1:00 p.m. in the Howland Recital Hall at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.

To find out more about Shawnee State University’s musical theater program or their upcoming auditions, contact Program Director John Huston at [email protected] or visit

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