Saturday 3rd August 2013 - matinee
At the end of 9-5 The Musical, Dolly Parton addresses the audience via a prerecorded video message and encourages those who have enjoyed the show to spread the word and tell everyone they know. I feel a particular sense of duty to do this as, knowing nothing about the musical or the 1980 film on which it is based & seeing Dolly’s image all over the publicity material, I assumed it was a 'jukebox' musical of the [insert song here] variety, complete with a character called Jolene and all of Parton’s biggest hits.
I have never been happier to be so completely and utterly wrong.
Although some of the musical numbers have been previously recorded by Parton they are perfectly chosen to further the plot or add depth to the characters, as all good musical theatre scores should.
The book is by Patricia Resnick, who also wrote the film, and she ensures that every line or idea introduced in Act One pays off by the end and peppers the script with topical references and in-jokes that can only be made by looking back on the period with hindsight. The musical is set in 1979, in a world where personal assistants are still secretaries and the idea of a female CEO seems alien to the entirely male management. That is until three employees take on their 'sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot' of a boss.
I’ve previously enjoyed Jackie Clune and Natalie Casey’s performances in plays ‘Mogadishu’ and ‘Abigails Party’ respectively but it is clear that they are equally at home in musicals.
Jackie Clune plays Violet Newstead, a single mother and loyal employee hoping for a promotion and is a likeable leading lady with a rich singing voice. Natalie Casey as newly divorced Judy Bernly gets a lot of laughs with her comic timing and delivery but also convincingly portrays Judy's building confidence throughout the show culminating in one of the standout moments, a powerful rendition of 'Get Out and Stay Out'. Additionally, I saw and loved Amy Lennox in musical ‘Soho Cinders’ and as 'Backwards Barbie' Doralee Rhodes she is utterly charming. She has a beautiful voice to match her witty and charismatic portrayal and is a performer that has already made such an impression with me that I will look forward to seeing her in future roles during what I'm sure will be a long and successful career.
As sleazy boss Franklin Hart Jr, Ben Richards seems to be having great fun and his dance sequence with Anita Louise Combe’s Roz is one of the highlights of the first Act. There is a large ensemble ensuring the stage looks full, they interact with the set smoothly to cover scene changes and they perform inventively choreographed routines with boundless energy.
9-5 The Musical is infectious good fun with lively dance numbers and strong performances and I found it more enjoyable than a great deal of other shows currently touring the UK and in the West End. I actually saw the show in its first run at Manchester Opera House last year and was more than happy to make a second trip. I’m pleased to see that it has only improved since its first outing. ‘9-5 The Musical’ may not change your life but it will certainly keep you entertained and ensure you leave with a smile on your face; sometimes that is all I want after a week of working 9-5!
See http://www.9to5themusical.co.uk/ for remaining tour dates.