Director: Jeff Calhoun
Music and Lyrics: Dolly Parton
Designer: Tom Rogers
Dolly Parton’s iconic 9 to 5 not only serves as the name of the production but is also the title track. This catchy and feel-good tune, despite its mildly resentful message, reiterates for those short of attention in the audience, the setting of this production. If that had not driven the message home, the fabulously creative set designed by Tom Rogers, comprising of clunky computers framing the stage would surely seal the deal.
For those of you unfamiliar with the film, the plot follows the lives of Doralee Rhodes (performed by Stephanie Chandos), Violet Newstead (the headline act – Louise Redknapp) and Judy Bernley (UK debut, singing sensation, Vivian Panka) and their collective story tells a tale of female subordination in a patriarchal, 80s style office environment. In staying fairly true to the classic, these three women, one a seasoned office employee, one a much lusted after personal assistant, and the other new addition to the workforce, find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Despite not necessarily wanting to hold their boss at ransom, they end up having no other choice – it’s just what they have to do, it’s their only ‘way to make a living’
There’s nothing unkind to be said about this production, it’s entirely harmless; littered with opportunities for audience laughter – especially, if you’re into a more slapstick genre of comedy. The chorus had depth and its soundtrack is enjoyable, there were even moments of real musical delight. Stephanie Chandos brought ‘Dolly’s’ role to life and there were moments where the audience could have been forgiven for thinking that the icon herself was on stage. Louise Redknapp’s dulcet tones were delightful, a real testament to her career in music.
However, and most notably, it was Sean Needham who stole the show. He absolutely nailed the role of Franklin Hart Jnr. Not only was this due to his comic timing but also how he managed to make the most misogynistic of men into a loveable rogue; particularly memorable was his opening track ‘Here for You’ which had the audience in stitches.
However, and perhaps it’s the cynical mind of an aspiring and ambitious individual, it couldn’t help but feel as though the overarching message was a little dated. The newfound success of an office run by a group of women seemed to be attributed to a lick of paint, a bunch of flowers, a photo on your desk and a gaudy chaise-long – ultimately, nothing of real substance.
This was surely not the intention and for most, particularly the die-hard Dolly fans in the audience, the message of sisterhood rang a little louder and a little clearer.
Runs until 16 October 2021