Sorry, the boss is tied up . . .

9 to 5 The Musical

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

IT'S been a very long time since I saw anything on the stage and, on getting out of my seat at the final curtain, instantly said `Brilliant'.

It is perhaps a contributing fact that 9 to 5 the musical has a level of ` light hearted ‘expectation based on the obvious connection to very upfront and visible Dolly Parton and the memory of the highly successful 80's girl power movie of the same name.

It is however an expectation that is unfounded as this production has so much more to offer.

What's special about 9 to 5 is that whilst there is a strong sense of nostalgia in the opening theme and the inclusion of Dolly albeit on video, the production and development of the story has reached such a level that it is in fact a real and credible musical.

So given that what's a little surprising, is that when one of the original writers Patricia Resnick and   Parton created the musical back in 2009, that due to low ticket sales ,its Broadway run was forced to an early close. Maybe it just needed  time to breathe.

Girl power: Jackie Clune as Violet Newstead, Amy Lennox as Doralee Rhodes and Natalie Casey as Judy Bernly. Pictures: Phil Hitchman 

Perhaps in contrast the impact of this UK tour is down to the fantastic performances of the cast.  Jackie Clune as Violet, Amy Lennox as Doralee and Natalie Casey as Judy in the lead roles all bring such a dynamic vitality to their parts. Then there is Ben Richards as the chauvinistic boss Mr Hart and the scene stealing Roz played by Anita Louise Combe who together create a highly original fantasy moment complete with some great choreography.

Or perhaps it is the choreography and staging throughout with more than a polished nod to the great Hollywood musicals .Did I mention the vocals, oh they were great too.

Maybe though again, it's the new songs that Parton has created that step outside her known commercial country work. Songs like Let love grow and Get out and stay out that when arranged here are very accomplished and pure musical theatre.

Whatever it is, the combination of the superb staging and technical production plus all of the above combines to make a musical that deserves greater respect than maybe it gets or is recognised for.

It is fitting that one of Dolly Parton's mantras, and a key theme of 9 to 5, is that of being prematurely judged purely by the way someone looks.  9 to 5 the musical is a little like that. You think you know what it's going to be like from the glittery publicity shots and tinsel text but you come away with something else.

Underneath the feel good factor, dance routines, comedy and slick staging it does have a deeper message but it doesn't ever preach it.  

In the end you are left with the memory of some fine Music and great staging and those pair alone are a couple of outstanding assets that reveal more about Dolly that the other two she is often remembered for.  To 18-05-13

Jeff Grant

And from by the water cooler . . .

****

THREE women cleverly turn the tables on their bullying, sexist boss in this sparkling Dolly Parton musical based on the hit movie.

And the cast complete the job so well that even men in the audience are on their feet singing and cheering with the ladies at the boisterous finale.

It is a show packed with humour, emotion and excellent songs delivered by a cast who all have outstanding voices. You can't fail to enjoy it from start to finish.

There is a lovely touch, too, in the way Dolly herself appears on a clock screen suspended above the stage to open proceedings, then at the end she leads the singing of 9 to 5, almost as if she is in the building.

The story is far fetched, certainly, but fun packed and at times hilarious as randy office boss Franklyn J. Hart, superbly played by Ben Richards, is kidnapped and strung up (not by the neck) when three of his female staff decide they've had enough of his antics, and take over the business.

Dolly lookalike Amy Lennox is a delight as Doralee Rhodes, attracting roars of approval when she halts Hart's over-eager approaches by pointing a gun and threatening to turn him from a rooster to a hen with one shot.

Outstanding performances, too, from Jackie Clune and Natalie Casey as Violet Newstead and Judy Bernley, the other two women in the plot, and Anita Louise Combe, playing the plain Roz Keith who suddenly produces a new image in basque, stockings and suspenders to sing of her love for the boss. To 18-05-13.

Paul Marston 

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