9 to 5 The Musical: Savoy Theatre.
Reviewed 20th April 2019
Dolly Parton’s hit 9 to 5 has been impressing audiences since its movie debut in 1978. Since the 2009 Broadway premiere the musical of the same name it has become a firm favourite. 9 to 5 The Musical tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy – three workmates who are pushed to the boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. After concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, the girls set out to reform their office. A fun, uplifting musical about teaming up, standing up and taking care of business 9 to 5 The Musical is currently playing a strictly limited season at the West End’s Savoy Theatre.
This newest production of 9 to 5 The Musical is very reminiscent of the UK Tour in 2012 featuring full on 70’s style costumes, hair and fun upbeat numbers. With a fun twist Dolly Parton herself narrates some of the story and even sings a number herself via video screen. Natalie McQueen is superb as Doralee Rhodes, the ‘blonde barbie’ whom the others think is having an affair with the mean, sexist boss Franklin Hart Jnr. played brilliantly by Sean Needham (understudy for this performance). What makes Natalie’s performance even more endearing is the fact that it is a character so far away from herself and yet she still manages to be convincing and passionate without become too stereotypical or ‘fake’ – unlike her double D’s. Amber Davies excels in her West End debut as Judy Bernly, particularly in the empowering song ‘Get Out and Stay Out‘. Louise Rednapp, who has recently stepped into the role of Violet Newstead, certainly has the vocals for the role but at times does not feel as powerful and in command as her character should. It is also quite hard to imagine her being the young girls superior when she herself looks so young – perhaps a change of wig or make up may have made her character look more believable as the widow who has been working for Franklin Hart Jnr. for so long. Bonnie Langford’s flexibility alone will astound the audiences and her comic timing works brilliantly in the role of Roz Keith, a role she also played in the 2012 UK Tour. In addition, the ensemble work tirelessly in the background creating different characters, dancing and making the stage seem like a bustling office. The transitions, particularly made good use of the talented ensemble dancers.
The set, designed by Tom Rogers, is clever, featuring computers all around the edge and the use of the digital wall at the back makes the stage seemingly stretch out of the auditorium. Lighting, by Howard Hudson, is bright and fun. The choreography by Lisa Stevens works well and is high energy and fast-paced. The moves which are very 70’s musical theatre may not perhaps be the most innovative but certainly work for this production.
9 to 5 The Musical is an enjoyable evening at the theatre. It is what you expect: girl-power, uplifting and funny. Although I hate typecasting shows this certainly fits into the girly night/hens party show criteria and would definitely disappoint. Whilst it may not have any hard-hitting storylines or show stopping musical numbers it is most definitely a fun evening out and allows the audience the chance to sit back, laugh along and thank themselves lucky that offices are not quite the same as they were then.
9 to 5 The Musical is playing at the Savoy Theatre until the 31st August 2019 before embarking on a UK and Ireland Tour. For information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith