Based on the hit film, Dolly Parton’s musical is hilarious from start to finish.
If there is a musical that celebrates more of female empowerment and doing whatever it takes to get what they want then I have yet to see it.
9 to 5 the Musical is a joyful (and still relevant) story about three very different women all of who seek revenge on their sexist and arrogant boss Franklin Hart Jr, fed up with how he undermines them all in his own way. It is a story of equality, frustration and a celebration of three powerful women taking control – still very much a powerful story in 2019 where equality still seems very far away in all industries.
Directed by Jeff Calhoun, this is a musical that is as bold, brash and lively as all the central characters, while the production strongly enforces the importance of equality in the workplace with great humour. Calhoun handles the issues raised with sensitivity combined with a sense of ridiculousness of the whole situation – particularly with regards to Franklin Hart Jr’s blatantly sexist jokes and remarks – to great effect.
He is helped in this by Patricia Resnick’s brilliantly written book that captures the frustrations of Violet, Judy and Doralee, while allowing each of them to grow individually on a more personal basis as well. For example to see Doralee to transform from a ditzy blonde who everyone thinks is sleeping with the boss to someone confident in her abilities is a delight to watch. The whole book and script is filled with some sparkling lines that are delivered to perfection – even if some of the situations the characters find themselves in is slightly over the top. Yet it portrays authentically the harshness of inequality in offices.
Elsewhere, Dolly Parton’s music and lyrics are wonderfully effective in bringing the characters to life, with the hilarious ‘Heart to Hart’, the sweetly tender ‘Let Love Grow’ and ‘Here for You’ proving to be particular highlights. The diversity in style and lyrics really reflect the story and characters well being filled with heaps of personality.
There are also plenty of standout performances from the cast. In particular, Brian Conley as Franklin Hart Jr somehow manages to take an immensely dislikable character and make him utterly ridiculous allowing the audience to laugh at him for his backwards attitude to women. This works well particularly during the number ‘Here for You’ which Conley performs with his great sense of comedy – despite the uncomfortableness perhaps of some of the lyrics.Elsewhere, Bonnie Langford is hilarious as Roz – really making the most of playing the love-struck element of her character and impressing with her flexibility during ‘Heart to Hart’ which proves to be a real highlight.
Meanwhile, Natalie McQueen as Doralee is lovely to watch – with her the twang of her accent seeming unforced while capturing her character’s gentle and bubbly personality that makes the audience really sympathise with her as she rejects her boss’s advances. Jenny Legg also impresses as the independent and sharply intelligent Violet with her panic at the thought of poisoning her boss is a hilarious moment in the production, while Rhiane Drummond offers a charmingly heartfelt performance as Judy capturing the character’s transformation beautifully.
Brilliantly performed and with plenty to enjoy from start to finish, 9 to 5 the musical feels like a real celebration of women taking control of their lives in the workplace.
By Emma Clarendon
9 to 5 continues to play at the Savoy Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Encore Tickets, See Tickets , West End Theatre Breaks, Last Minute.com or From the Box Office.