ComedyDramaMusicalReviewSouth West

9 to 5 The Musical – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Music and Lyrics: Dolly Parton

Based on the book by Patricia Resnick

Screenplay: Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins

Director: Jeff Calhoun

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

Back on stage again after 11 years, 9 to 5The Musical is just as much fun as ever, albeit without its illustrious creator, although she does put in a brief appearance through a couple of video clips Those fortunate enough to have seen either the 1980 film with Dolly Parton herself very much on board, or the original 2008 musical ditto, were fortunate indeed.

So – does the story of the three women who, growing increasingly dissatisfied with the way they are treated by a misogynist all-male management decide to take matters into their own hands with somewhat unorthodox methods, discovering their own strengths in the process, still work without Parton? The answer to that question is: yes, it does.

Opening with the iconic number 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton’s 1980 hit single of the same name) the musical stays faithful to the original, with the caveat that it isn’t the same, Dolly, without you, girl. Georgina Castle in a curly blonde wig does her best as Doralee Rhodes, the part that Dolly made her own, and to be fair gets the characterisation including the famous wiggle, off pat, but vocally is overloud in many of the musical numbers, with the result that the words are lost. Which is a pity, as not only do they make an important contribution to the whole but contain some wonderfully funny – and highly appropriate – lines. Apart from that well-known opening number the songs were not part of the film, but composed by Dolly herself for the musical and work brilliantly with the plot.

As Violet, Doralee’s co-worker and fellow conspirator in the fight against male supremacy, Caroline Sheen gives a neat characterisation faithful to the era in all respects, and gives ample proof of a pleasing singing voice,, particularly in the duet Let Love Grow with Violet’s would-be lover Joe (Christopher Jordan Marshall) in the second half, complemented by Marshall’s equally commendable vocals. As Judy, the third in the trio of female conspirators, Amber Davies fits neatly into the role.

Mega chuckles are awarded for Lucinda Lawrence’s hilarious portrayal of Roz, the prim secretary who reveals some hidden depths – along with a pair of shapely pins – in a couple of choreographer Lisa Stevens’ great dance routines. As the male boss, Franklin Hart Jnr Sean Needham tackles the role head-on, with some impeccable comic timing even when dangling above the stage from a couple of scarily-thin lines of rope. As one might surmise, and rightly so, the focus of this musical is the gender gap, both in the workplace and the home, and while logically one might feel that to some extent it is dated, in the light of recent and current scenarios, it is still relevant.

Quite extraordinary, really. To quote from the script of the musical: “In ten years’ time they’ll laugh at us.” But in fact, it’s still no laughing matter today.

Staging with furniture of the period is spot-on, as is some seamless furniture-moving, while Howard Hudson’s atmospheric lighting throughout is a major contribution, with a dramatic blood-red hue overall coming as a surprise in the second half.

Runs until 2nd November 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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